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Fact Checking Government claims about the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)

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The BJP government has made four claims about standing with farmers in times of need ( referring to the SDRF) in an infographic published on the 48-months portal. This article is a fact check of the claims made in the infographic.

The BJP government has made four claims about standing with farmers in times of need in an infographic published on the 48-months portal. This article is a fact check of the claims made in the infographic.All of these claims refer to the revised list of items & norms of assistance from State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) applicable from 2015 to 2020. This is following the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.  The Finance Commission in its report notes that the norms for expenditure have undergone periodic revisions and that the last revision had taken place in November 2013 before the 14th Finance Commission’s period.

Has the Crop damage criterion been reduced from 50% to 33%?
The first claim is that ‘relief to farmers in distress given in case of 33% and above damage to the crop whereas earlier it was for 50%’.

As per the website of the Disaster Management Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), constituted under Section 48 (1) (a) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters. The Central Government contributes 75% of SDRF allocation for general category States/UTs and 90% for special category States/UTs. The annual Central contribution is released in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission. SDRF shall be used only for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims. Disasters like Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves are covered under SDRF.An answer in Lok Sabha in March 2018 states that, ‘the existing guidelines for items and norms of assistance from SDRF and NDRF were issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in April 2015 and are applicable for a period of five years with effect from 2015-16 to 2019-20. As per these guidelines, assistance from SDRF/NDRF, include assistance towards input subsidy for crop loss of 33% and above, which was earlier admissible for crop loss of 50% and above’. It also states that, ‘the assistance so admissible is provided to all categories of farmers and is in the form of relief only and not by way of compensation for the loss suffered’.

It is true that the new norms provide for input subsidy in case the crop loss is 33% and above which was earlier 50% and above.

Claim: Relief to farmers in distress given in case of 33% and above damage to the crop whereas earlier it was for 50%

Fact: The guidelines released by the home ministry in 2015 include assistance towards input subsidy for loss of 33% and above, which was earlier 50% and above. Hence the claim is TRUE. However, it has to be noted that the assistance is provided as relief only and not as compensation.

Is full Minimum Support Price being paid for food grains damaged due to excessive rainfall?
The second claim is that ‘for food grains damaged due to excessive rainfall, full minimum support price to be paid’.

As per a government’s press release, procurement quality norms are decided every year on the recommendations of a committee of experts which include Food Secretaries of States. If quality of wheat or rice is affected due to unseasonal rains or any other reason, relaxation in the norms is considered on the recommendations of states after testing samples of food grains. As per Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 relaxation in norms is allowed in the case of broken and shrinked grains and if grains have lost shine. According to the act grains having more than 14 percent moisture cannot stored and procured.

The Centre extends such relaxation in norms on a case to case basis when there are natural disasters. Such relaxation in norms is not new and happened during the UPA as well. It has to be noted that relaxation is not automatic and is considered based on the situation at hand.

Claim: For food grains damaged due to excessive rainfall, full minimum support price to be paid.

Fact: The Centre extends relaxation in norms for procurement of food grains on a case to case basis when there are natural disasters. Such relaxation in norms is not new and happened during the UPA as well. It has to be noted that relaxation is not automatic and is considered based on the situation at hand. Hence, the claim is MISLEADING.

Is assistance of Rs. 4 lakh being provided for families of deceased persons?
The third claim is that ‘families of the deceased persons to be given an assistance of 4 lakh rupees, up from 2.5 lakh rupees’.

It is true that the revised norms of assistance from the SDRF increase the assistance per deceased persons to Rs. 4 lakh from the existing Rs. 1.5 lakh per person. It has to be noted that is not for farmers alone, but for any deceased person during a notified natural disaster.

Claim: Families of the deceased persons to be given an assistance of 4 lakh rupees, up from 2.5 lakh rupees.

Fact: It is true that the revised norms of assistance from the SDRF increase the assistance per deceased persons to Rs. 4 lakh. Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, it has to be noted that is not for farmers alone, but for any deceased person during a notified natural disaster.

Has provision under SDRF increased 82%?
The fourth claim is that. ‘82% rise in provision under SDRF (State Disaster Relief Fund) during 2015-20, as compared to 2012-15. It went up to 61,220 crore rupees from 33,580.93 crore rupees’.

The provisions for SDRF are purely based on the recommendations of the respective finance commission. On the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the current government increased the allocation to SDRF from Rs. 33,580.93 crores during the years 2010-11 to 2014-15 (period of the 13th finance commission) to Rs. 61,220 crores for the years 2015-16 to 2019-20.

At the same time, the current government did not accept the recommendation of the 14th finance commission that all states (irrespective of their special category status) contribute 10% to the SDRF while the Centre fund the remaining 90%.

Claim: 82% rise in provision under SDRF (State Disaster Relief Fund) during 2015-20, as compared to 2012-15. It went up to 61,220 crore rupees from 33,580.93 crore rupees.

Fact The provisions for SDRF are purely based on the recommendations of the respective finance commission. On the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the current government increased the allocation to SDRF from Rs. 33,580.93 crores during the years 2010-11 to 2014-15 (period of the 13th finance commission) to Rs. 61,220 crores for the years 2015-16 to 2019-20.  Hence the claim is TRUE.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here

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