BHUBANESWAR: The Central Government on Thursday approved additional assistance from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for three states, including Andhra Pradesh, which was hit by cyclone Titli but Odisha’s demand for the same remained unconsidered.
Titli had hit both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in October last. However, the High-Level Committee (HLC) of Home Ministry, chaired by Union Minister Rajnath Singh, approved Rs 539.52 crore to Andhra Pradesh for assistance towards restoration and rehabilitation measures for damage caused by the severe cyclonic storm.
Though Odisha had sought assistance of Rs 2,014.09 crore from the Centre, it has not been considered yet by the HLC which approved Rs 3048.39 crore for Kerala for the devastating floods while for Nagaland, the panel sanctioned Rs 131.16 crore for landslides-triggered havoc.
Titli had created havoc in Odisha killing more than 70 people while over 60 lakh population in 17 districts were affected and house damage was estimated at 57 lakh. On October 11, the storm made landfall near Gopalpur triggering heavy rainfall leading to large-scale devastation and landslides in Gajapati district. On October 18, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought the assistance of Rs 2,014.09 crore from the Centre for rehabilitation and restoration measures. He had sought an interim assistance of Rs 1000 crore from the Centre though the State Government pegged the loss at Rs 2,770.28 crore. A seven-member Central team led by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs AK Sahi visited the cyclone-affected areas of the State in November to assess the damage.
While a senior officer of the State Government expressed hope that Odisha’s demand may soon be considered, the Centre’s decision to approve assistance to AP while ignoring Odisha came in for strong criticism from the ruling BJD and Samajwadi Party.
Describing it as sheer negligence of Odisha by the Centre, Government Chief Whip Amar Prasad Satpathy said the decision has added yet another chapter in Central negligence of Odisha. President of State unit of Samajwadi Party Rabi Behera threatened that the party will oppose the visit of Prime Minister to Odisha on December 24 over the issue.