Flood relief provided so far peanuts: HC

Srinagar: The J&K high court on Tuesday termed the flood relief provided by the government of India so far to the Jammu and Kashmir as “peanuts” even as it directed Indian finance ministry to file status report about the Rs 44,000cr sought by the previous government by October 6.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasathakumar and Justice Bansi Lal, directed a five-member panel headed by its Registrar Vigilance to file “damage assessment” report in the light of apex court directions by September 30.
“It is peanuts,” the division bench said after going by the status report filed by the Indian Home Ministry, putting the total amount provided to state on account of the “special package” (Rs 1667 crore), NDRF (1602 cr) and PM Relief Fund (765 cr) so far at about Rs 4000 crore.
“This amount is around 9% of Rs 44,000 crore package sought by the state. It is very low amount and the flood of such a magnitude is to be given much importance. One year has passed, still you are not deciding,” the bench said.
“For the flood affected court buildings and libraries, we had submitted a proposal for Rs 11 crores (before government of India) and that amount is not released so far. Without a library how the high court can function?” the bench observed while hearing a Public Interest Litigation Filed by two lawyers, GA Lone and Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, in the aftermath of the last year’s devastating floods.
In the status report, Ashok Shukla, deputy secretary in the ministry of home affairs, said that Rs 44,000 crore was under the consideration of the Indian finance minister.
In the report filed through Assistant Solicitor General of India SA Makroo, the MHA said that long term recovery for the state was handled by the finance ministry in consultations with NITI Ayog through centrally sponsored schemes and special plan assistance. He said Department of Economics Affairs helps in coordinating with external and financing agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Makroo also produced a letter from National Disaster Management Authority, stating that out of the PM Relief Fund, Rs 367.69 crores were released for damaged houses numbering 109,258.
Asked by the court as to how much time would it take for the finance ministry to decide about the package, Makroo sought time to get the “instructions” regarding the package.
“Secretary Finance Ministry, GoI, being not a party in this PIL and this court is of the opinion that (it) is to be impleaded as party to get instructions regarding the sanction of further amount,” the court said and directed the secretary to file status report on October 6.
It also directed state’s Additional Advocate General Tasaduq Khawaja to file status report regarding utilization of the amount already sanctioned by the GoI.
“State government also is directed to file the status report regarding the amount released to the beneficiaries and any further relief to be provided to the other beneficiaries already identified.”
The court also directed the registrar vigilance to expedite the process of identification of the damages caused by the flood as directed by the Apex Court.
“It is also to be noted that when the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, on 24 September 2014, a committee was ordered to be constituted by the high court to assess the damages. Pursuant to the direction, registrar vigilance of this court is heading the committee and is proceeding with the assessment,” the court observed and directed the registrar to file submit the report by September 30.