An RTI reveals that the state government had claimed a much smaller figure than the public proclamation by the chief minister
Kerala government had claimed only Rs 4797 crores, according to a memorandum submitted to the central government after assessing the loss of life and property due to heavy rain and flood between 01 and 30 of August 2018, an RTI reply reveals.
However, the figure claimed in public is around Rs 26,000 crore.
Talking to The Lede, PG Sunil Kumar, the social activist who had filed the RTI, said that the Kerala government is fooling the public by discussing a higher figure in the public and claiming only a smaller one with the central government.
“This government has seen the flood disaster as an opportunity. This government had filed only two claims in 2018. One is claiming loss worth Rs 800 crore for the loss in June-July rains and the second one claiming Rs 4797 crore loss in the August floods. I filed the RTI in 2019 in July with the central government. And as a reply to that RTI query, the central government has given exact details,” Sunil Kumar said.
The RTI from the central government states that “as per the State Disaster Relief Fund and National Disaster Relief Fund norms, it has granted Rs 3048 crore and the airbills on an actual basis to Kerala government for relief necessitated during the 2018 floods.”
According to Sunil Kumar, the second memorandum is prepared very much in detail.
“It has listed down the loss of lives, damage in agriculture, fisheries, and poultry sector etc and the money needed to compensate the loss in detail. Altogether it is only Rs 4797 crore. Then why is this government bloating the figure in public domain and complaining that the central government has not given anything?” Sunil Kumar said.
According to the document, 339 lives were lost during the period of this memorandum due to landslides, floods, etc, and, Rs 4 lakh had been paid to each victim. And Rs 73 crore was estimated for the crop loss.
In the floods, a total of 1,11,356 urban houses in urban areas and 6,92,848 houses in grama panchayats were affected in Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur, and Wayanad.
Around Rs 958 crore was the loss estimated and presented in the memorandum.
While Rs 10 crore was estimated and presented for desilting, repairing and restoration of fish farms in the memorandum, Rs 47 crore was calculated for the animal husbandry and dairy development sector.
Interestingly, the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund has already received Rs 4750.78 crore, according to the donation portal set up Kerala government to raise funds following the floods.
As per the website, contributions received from the general public through electronic mode on 29 Jan 2020, is Rs 230.22 crores and contributions received from the general public through salary challenge from pensioners, public, autonomous, grant-in-aid institutions and others is around Rs 2818.83 crore.
According to Sunil Kumar, the claim put by the Kerala government in detail is around Rs 5000 crore.
“The central government has given Rs 3000 crore. The CMDRF has Rs 4000 crore. Our actual claim was only Rs 5000. So, we have plenty of money. But I can’t understand why the government is crying and bloating the figures up,” Sunil added.
In a Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) document prepared in October 2018, the Kerala government had estimated the total damages to be around Rs 10,557 crore and total losses to be around Rs 16,163 crore amounting to a total disaster effect of around Rs 26,720 crore.
The total estimated damage does not include damages to private buildings and properties including shops, showrooms, business units, private hospitals/educational institutions and private vehicles.
And it does not consider losses incurred by private traders and business units and also damage, and loss suffered by Kochi airport, road transport, and waterways.
The total damage and loss now estimated at Rs 26,720 crore in this report would be much higher, if these were included.
“However, this has been not put up in official claim,” Sunil Kumar said adding that the bloated figure was probably meant to collect more money and spend it for other needs.
In 30 days’ floods in 2018 in August, 339 human lives were lost, thousands of houses damaged, over a million and a half people were moved to relief camps, large stretches of major roads got washed away and many bridges got damaged.
Cochin International Airport which is one of the busiest International airports of the country got flooded and suspended its operations from 15 to 29 of August 2018.
Uninterrupted rains lashed most areas of the state from 08 to 18 of August 2018 which resulted in widespread destruction in all the major sectors of the state.
Meanwhile, the recent High-Level Committee (HLC) had approved additional central assistance of Rs 5908.56 crore to seven states from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) – Rs 616.63 crore to Assam, Rs 284.93 crore to Himachal Pradesh, Rs 1869.85 crore to Karnataka, Rs 1749.73 crore to Madhya Pradesh, Rs 956.93 crore to Maharashtra, Rs 63.32 to Tripura and Rs 367.17 crore to Uttar Pradesh for floods, landslides and cloudburst during south-west monsoon 2019.
Kerala was kept out from the list even after the consistent call for funds.
The centre had earlier released interim finance of Rs 3200 crore to four states, in which too Kerala was not included.
The interim financial aid of Rs 3200 crore was given to four states – Rs 1200 crore to Karnataka, Rs 1000 crore to Madhya Pradesh, Rs 600 crore to Maharashtra and Rs 400 crore to Bihar.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has criticised the BJP-led central government, accusing it of starving the state of funds.
Vijayan told reporters that the centre was unwilling to sanction funds which they owe to the state and this was causing the state to suffer a financial crunch.
Recently, there was a report filed by The Hindu that the Kerala government is not going to get extra funds as the state has failed to provide the Utilisation Certificates for 50% of money sanctioned after 2018 floods.