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Central Government hasn’t provided any additional assistance for the Hyderabad Floods so far

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A social media post claiming that Rs. 10,000 flood relief given recently to the flood victims in Hyderabad by the State Government is actually financed from the Rs. 550 crores flood aid released by the Central Government. This article gives the low-down on disaster management funds and fact-checks the claim made in the post.

The archived version of the post can be found here.

Claim: Rs. 10,000 flood relief given recently to the flood victims in Hyderabad by the State Government is actually financed from the Rs. 550 crores flood aid released by the Central Government.

Fact: The Central Government has released Rs. 448 crores as part of its share of SDRMF to Telangana. This is a statutory obligation upon the Central Government, and it releases funds to every state irrespective of a disaster. However, the 2nd instalment of this fund is released to only a few states and Telangana is one among these few states. Apart from this, no additional assistance has been released to the state related to the recent floods. However, a central team has visited the flood-hit Hyderabad to assess the loss. Hence the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.

Government of India has enacted the Disaster Management Act in 2005 which envisaged the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) headed by respective Chief Ministers in view of spearheading and implementing a holistic and integrated approach to disaster management in India.

State Disaster Response Fund:

Disaster Management Act entails the creation of a State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) under Section 48 (1)(a) which acts as the primary fund available at State governments disposal at the time of disasters. The Central government contributes 75% towards the SDRF for general category states and UTs and 90% for special category states/UTs which includes northeastern and Himalayan States.

The Finance Commission in its periodic reports make recommendations regarding the quantum of SDRF for each state. However the central government is not obliged to implement the recommendations. For example, the fourteenth finance commission has recommended that Union and State Governments contribute to the SDRF corpus in the ratio of 90:10 for all the states but this was not implemented as the Union Government decided to continue with the already existing 75:25 sharing pattern.

Generally, the Union Government would release the funds in two equal instalments and likewise, the state governments shall also transfer their contribution to the SDRF in two installments. The central government is obliged to release these funds to SDRFs irrespective of the occurrence of disasters. Also, the State Governments are entitled to use up to 10% of the funds available in SDRF to provide immediate relief to the victims during the time of local disasters which are not notified under the category of disasters by the Ministry of Home Affairs provided such disasters are notified by the State Governments.

15th Finance Commission Recommendations

Since the present disaster management system focuses too much on disaster response rather than risk mitigation, preparedness etc., the 15th Finance Commission has recommended to set up Mitigation funds at both National and State level in the form of National and State Disaster Mitigation Fund (NDMF & SDMF) as stipulated in the Disaster Management Act. Mitigation funds shall be used for risk aversion at the community level whereas the response funds shall be used for reconstruction and recovery. In order to achieve this, the commission has recommended that allocation of the funds shall be in the ratio of 80:20 for SDRF and SDMF. And within the 80% allocation of SDRF, 40% is allocated for Response & Relief, 30% for Recovery & Reconstruction and 10% for Preparedness & Capacity Building. Further, the commission has recommended an outlay of Rs. 28,983 crores for SDRMF for the year 2020-2021 out of which Centers share is Rs. 22,184 crores.

Release of Funds in the time of COVID-19

Central Government has notified COVID-19 as a disaster and permitted the State Governments to utilize the SDRF funds in dealing with the pandemic. And in the view of the pandemic, the central government has decided to extend the time period of existing guidelines recommended by the 14th Finance Commission for a period of one year. Further, these guidelines are subject to recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission regarding the funding windows of SDRF and SDMF. Also, the Central Government has released its share of 1st instalment of Rs. 11,092 crores in advance out of which Telangana has received Rs. 224.50 crores. And as of 03 November 2020, the Central Government has released the 2nd instalment of its share in advance for few states and Telangana is one among these states and it received Rs. 449 crores.

In addition to these statutory transfers, during the time of disasters of severe nature, SDRFs are supplemented through National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) provided there are no adequate funds with SDRF. Usually, a Inter Ministerial Central Team (ICTM) would visit the disaster affected state and assess the severity and magnitude of loss and submit its report to the Central Government based on which Centre would release additional funds through NDRF.

According to a press release dated 13 November 2020 by the Home Ministry, a High-Level Committee under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister has approved additional central assistance under NDRF to six states (West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, MP and Sikkim) which were affected by disasters earlier this year. Telangana did not feature among these states. It is possible that such additional assistance may be released to Telangana in the coming months.

Even back in 2019, when Bihar and Karnataka were affected with floods, the Centre has provided additional financial assistance of Rs. 1200 crores to Karnataka and the Central Government has approved for advance release of funds for Bihar. Similarly, additional assistance was given to West Bengal after an Inter-Ministerial Central Team assessed of loss caused due to the floods in 2017.

Recently, a five-member central team has visited Hyderabad on 22 October 2020 to assess the magnitude of loss occurred due to heavy rains and recent flash floods. Telangana government has projected an estimated loss of Rs. 9,400 crores due to the floods which wreaked havoc in the entire state. Out of the total loss projected by the Telangana Government, the loss estimated in GHMC was Rs. 567 crores. The central government will take a call regarding the release of additional assistance based on the report submitted by the Central team. As on date, no additional funds have been released.

In a nutshell, Contrary to the claim made in the post, the Central Government has released Rs. 449 crores to Telangana as part of its share of SDRMF which is a statutory obligation and is not related to the additional assistance for floods. As on date, no additional assistance is provided by the Central Government to Telangana regarding the recent Hyderabad floods.

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