Govt. ready for debate on floods in Assembly: Badal

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Chandigarh, Aug 28 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said his Government was not averse to the Congress demand for a debate on the issue of floods in the Vidhan Sabha that wrecked havoc in various parts of the state recently.

Talking to newsmen here, he said his government would not shrug off the Opposition demand and was ready for a thorough discussion on the issue in the Assembly.

The state Congress had demanded a White Paper on State Calamity Relief Fund, alleging the Punjab Government had not yet utilized Rs 1,646 crore lying in the Fund for the welfare of flood affected people of the state.

The Chief Minister said the norms recommended by the previous Congress Government had become a hurdle in the way of the state spending even a portion of the Calamity Relief Fund. " We have asked the centre to review the existing norms," he added.

Mr Badal said he had already taken up the issue of upward revision of norms with the Centre and the very next day of his meeting with Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil a central team visited flood-affected areas of Punjab to assess the damage.

He said the floods had affected a population of 1,94,675 in about 911 villages and and damaged crops in 1.84 lakh acres of land. As many as 37 people lost their lives and they included those who died during the current rainy season. The total loss has been assessed at Rs 954 crore so far.

UNI VKJ MMS1858

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