Norms recommended by Amarinder come in way of calamity relief:CM

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Chandigarh, Aug 26 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said here today said that "anti-Punjab" and "anti-farmer" norms recommended by the previous Chief Minster in 2005 had become a hurdle in the way of the state spending even a portion of the so-called Calamity Relief Fund (CRF), worth Rs 1687 crore, supposedly issued by the Centre to the state.

He said that former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recommended a compensation ranging from just Rs 700 acre to only Rs 2000 per acre as compensation for total loss.

He said surprisingly Mr Amarinder Singh, through a State Government communication to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, dated August 25, 2005, had asked for a meager compensation of Rs 1000 per acre where the damage to the crops was 50% to 75% and only Rs 700 where the damage was up to 50%.

The SAD-BJP government gives Rs 5000 per acre as relief as against the Centre's figure of Rs 1400 and Mr Amarinder Singh's recommendation of Rs 2000 per acre.

Mr Badal said that Amarinder Singh's recommendations were totally out of touch with the actual realities on the ground and showed his utter ignorance about farmers and farming.

"This year, the farmers had to spend Rs.2000 per acre as labour cost for paddy plantation alone. The amount of relief granted by the Centre (Rs 1400 per acre following a recommendation of just Rs 2000 per acre by the previous Congress Government was not enough even to meet this cost. When you add up all input and capital costs incurred by the farmer on the crop, the figure is close to Rs 20,000. That is why we have asked the centre to review the existing norms and fix a minimum of Rs 15,000 per acre as relief-cum-compensation," said the Chief Minister.

The issue of upward revision of norms was taken up with the centre during Mr Badal's meetings with the Union Ministers for Home and Agriculture. He had also impressed upon the Central team that visited Punjab for an on the spot survey that the state's case needed to be considered separately from those of other states as the quantum of damage caused to crops and property was entirely different from the loss suffered on this account by the other states during the recent floods.

The Chief Minister said that the SAD-BJP government in Punjab had gone beyond the norms set by the Government of India and had fixed Rs 5000 per acre as relief cum compensation by adding Rs 3600 per acre from its own kitty.

Similarly, in case of damaged house it should be raised to Rs.50,000 per family instead of Rs.25,000 per family, added Mr Badal.

He said during the current flood season, Rs 40 crore approximately had been allotted to deputy commissioners for disbursement as a relief till date.

It may be recalled that a scheme for constitution and administration of the Calamity Relief Fund and Investments was introduced by the Government of India on the recommendation of the 9th Finance Commission firstly for the year 1990-91 to 1994-95.

Under the provision of the scheme 75% contribution was made by Government of India and balance 25% by state government.

UNI VKJ JS2107

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