NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday released the first instalment of the central share of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) of Rs 8873.6 crore for the year 2021-22 ahead of the normal schedule. The move comes at a time when cash-strapped states have cited that they would need more funds to tackle the surge in Covid- 19 cases.
Up to 50 per cent of this fund has been allowed to be used for Covid-19 containment measures that may include setting up of quarantine centres, buying of medical equipment and providing for ambulances and expenditure towards testing.
Typically, the first instalment of SDRF is released in June, according to the recommendations of the Finance Commission. “In relaxation of normal procedure, not only has the release of SDRF been advanced, the amount has also been released without waiting for the utilisation certificate of the amount provided to the states in the last financial year. Up to 50 per cent of the amount released i.e. Rs.4436.8 crore can be used by the states for Covid- 19 containment measure,” the Union Ministry of Finance said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The decision to release the funds was made based on the recommendations made by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA). The Centre also advised the states to use the funds to meet the cost of oxygen generation and storage plants in hospitals, testing laboratories and testing kits. On Friday, the Finance Ministry has also decided to provide an additional amount of up to Rs 15,000 crore to states as an interest-free loan for 50-year, which they can spend on capital projects.