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FM rebutts Jaya charge on tsunami relief funds

Written by: Staff

Chennai, Apr 15: Rebutting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's charge that the Centre had not released adequate funds for tsunami relief, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said Rs 5,025 crore have been earmarked under various departments and schemes for Rehabilitation and reconstruction works.

Talking to reporters here today Mr Chidambaram said funds to the tune of Rs 2,347 crores, including Rs 617.20 crores as immediate releif, was already availed by the Tamil Nadu government from the total package.

Besides, the Centre had outlayed Rs 2678.37 crore with external funding from World Bank and Asian Development Bank for rehabilitation and reconstruction works, he added.

Giving details of the funds given to the State, he said Rs 441.08 crore have been allotted for fisheries department. The state government could seek reimbursment of this after spending it. So far, the state had sought reimbursement of Rs 131.91 crore, and it was free to claim the rest. ''It's state's money. The government can submit details and claim rembursement'', he added.

He said Rs 9.94 crore and Rs 8.50 crore have been given for repair for fishing harbours and drinking water schemes.

Mr Chidambaram said Rs 650 crores were earmarked for housing schemes, including land acquisition, and they could claim reimbursement after spending. ''So far the State had not sent any reimbursement claim'', he added.

Apart from this, the Centre had fixed an outlay of Rs 2678.37 crore under the external fundings through Asian Development Bank and World Bank for reconstruction and rehabilitation works.

Of this, Rs 216 crore was given to the State. The balance amount could be claimed by the State.

On flood relief, Mr Chidambaram said the Centre had released Rs 1000 crore in two instalments, more than the amount recommended by the high level central teams which visited the state. Tamil Nadu had sought Rs 13,000 crore, including Rs 3,400 crore to repair damaged roads and Rs 4626 crore for waiving of cooperative loans.

''These things cannot be linked to flood relief and did not come under Calamity Releif Fund and National Calamity Contingency fund.

For reconstruction and rehabilitation, the Planning Commission is evolving a new scheme in consultation with the state governments''.

To a question, Mr Chidambaram said the Centre had neither reduced the subsidy nor reduced the quantity of rice provided to the BPL people. ''It's complete distortion. The offtake was less in Above the Poverty Line and the Centre only considered reducing the allocation''.

''It (the Centre) did not touch the BPL at all'', he added.


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