Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, rightly so, Orissa should get the topmost priority because of the magnitude of the problem there. Please do not ignore the sufferings of the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal also which have equally suffered.
Sir, I could not attend the House on the first day and I had to remain out of the House. It is because the constituency which I belong to, was totally cut off for the last one month from the national highway linking Calcutta due to floods and cyclones. Even today, I cannot reach Calcutta from my constituency unless I come to Siliguri and catch a flight.
A segment called Etawah is totally worsted for the last one month. During election, the polling booth was set up on the boat and people came by boat to cast their votes. People have shown their determination to respect democracy with a view that Parliament and the Government will respond to the crisis. At that time, everybody was serious, the political parties, the candidates and the Government that they should come and cast their votes. But the moment vote was over, for mere transportation of the people of marooned areas, no arrangements were made. It is such a pity that the candidates are crying during election time that the people should come and give votes, but the moment the election is over, they do not look at the people. This is really a tragic situation.
I appeal therefore that this matter also should be handled very seriously. The Collectors say "We are under the dictate of the Election Commission to make voters vote during election time. But now we are not under any obligation." This is the kind of thing that Collectors are saying.
I therefore draw the attention, through you, of the hon. Minister who is dealing with this subject today to the four suggestions that I am making apart from the suggestion I have made about the disaster management institute.
One joke we make always with human lives. If somebody dies in the aircrash, you give high rate of compensation. If somebody dies in a railway accident, you give different kind of compensation. If somebody dies in cyclone or floods, you give Rs.10,000/-. This is disastrous. Government should take a decision, in consultation with the State Government, and if necessary, with the National Council Meeting that a quantum uniformly applicable should be always given for the loss of life in the national calamities or accidents. It is a pity that a wage earner gets Rs.10,000/- when he loses his life in cyclone and if the rich man dies in aeroplane crash, his family gets Rs.5 lakh. So, the quantum of compensation should also be planned in a uniform way.
My third suggestion is that the Planning Commission, the Water Resources Ministry and the concerned Irrigation Department of the State Government should decisively prepare a document or a white paper to bring to the Parliament which, according to them, for the last 20 years are the flood prone areas, cyclone prone areas and drought prone areas and what mechanism in terms of Plan allocation, technological development, equipmentwise, Government is thinking for the affected areas and accordingly you prepare your study within a year and present the documentation and then ask Parliament to give you support. The kind of allocation you make for Defence resources, the entire House will allocate for Human Resources management.
These are my few suggestions. If Government consider them in the Cabinet, it will be helpful for future.
SHRI BRAJA KISHORE TRIPATHY (PURI): A severe cyclone which has swept through the coastal districts of Orissa, some parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on 17th and 18th October, 1999 has left behind a trail of devastation. The toll in Orissa has mounted to 147 people till 27th October. In Ganjam district alone, it accounted for 139 deaths. Several deaths have also occurred in Puri, Khurda, Gajapati, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal districts. It has also severely devastated Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts of Orissa. Hundreds of people have been seriously injured due to house collapses and uprooting of trees. The cyclone has disrupted telecommunication, electricity, road and railways networks of the coastal districts of the State.
Thousands of fishermen have lost their boats. Some of them are still missing in the Bay of Bengal and in Chilka Lake. They have not yet been traced out by the State Government.
A lot of things have already been discussed. I do not want to repeat them. Thousands of acres of standing paddy crop have been completely lost, thousands of coconut trees have been uprooted and the total economy of the coastal districts has been collapsed. As a result of this sorrowful event, more than five lakh people are completely in a difficult position. Thousands of people are already on the streets and there is no rescue or relief measure provided by the State Government. The relief that has been provided by the State Government is completely miserable and it is not up to the expectation of the people. The relief provided by the State Government has reached the people only after four or five days.
On the 21st, I personally enquired from my constituency, which is also affected to some extent and the relief had not reached till the 21st. Yesterday, I again enquired from my constituency. Only three kilograms of rice have been provided to the families. That is the relief provided to the people who have lost their houses and properties and are now in the streets. Electricity is totally disconnected and there is no power supply. Kerosene is also not supplied to the homeless people and the affected persons. This is the relief being provided by the State Government. The State Government has miserably failed to rise upto the occassion and reached up to the expectations of the people. The relief measures undertaken by the State Government are very poor.
Sir, we had requested the hon. Prime Minister and he visited our State. He has expressed grave concern for the affected persons. We are very much grateful to the Prime Minister. He has also assured us to provide Rs.2,00 crore as Plan Advance and Rs.50 crore for calamity Relief Fund as advance. The Plan Advance is the due and it could have been given later but the State is undergoing a serious financial crisis and even the State Government employees are not in a position to get their salaries it will definitely help to improve the situation. Now the State Government is completely under a debt trap. So, the Central Government stepped in to assist the State Government but what is more important now is how the affected persons are to be provided relief.
The Central Government should declare this as a national calamity. That is our demand so that the Central Government can provide some special assistance separately from the National Calamity Relief Fund. So, we urge upon the Central Government to provide some assistance to the affected persons who are in a very bad condition. We request the Government of India to provide special assistance and there should not be any politics in this. There should not be any monopoly in declaration of the National calamity. There is no clear norm on how to declare a national calamity. Some States, with the mercy of the Central Government, sometimes with less gravity get some calamities declared as national calamities. But when calamities happen in other parts of the country with serious dimension, they are not declared as national calamities. So, there should be some guidelines to decide in which situation it is to be declared as a national calamity.
So, this is the situation in Orissa and other parts which have recently been affected. So, it should be declared as a national calamity and I urge upon the Central Government to provide adequate Central assistance that is required in the State for this purpose. Thank you.
* SHRI KALAVA SRINIVASULU (ANANTAPUR): Hon'ble Deputy-Speaker Sir, bestowing my salutations, I would like to bring to the notice of this august House through you Sir, the fall out of the recent Cyclonic havoc and natural disaster in the State of Andhra Pradesh. I thank the Chair for giving me this opportunity. In Andhra pradesh we witness two extreme strange situations due to natural calamities both in the form of Cyclonic flood havoc in the Coastal region and severe drought conditions in certain other parts of the State. It has become a need of the hour to take up relief measures in a big way which is estimated to be one thousand crores of rupees. The state government has initiated relief measures in the affected areas at the cost of 725 crores recieved from the National Calamity Relief Fund. Twelve Mandals have been identified to be drought prone severely hit areas. The state government has declared them to be worst hit areas. Hon'ble Chief Minister of our state Shri Sharad
Chandra Babu Naidu has taken up this with the centre and has impressed upon the Hon'ble Prime Minister too.
*Translation of speech originally delivered in Telgu.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sir, there is no interpretation.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Srinivasulu, please wait for a minute. I will find out. Has he given in writing?
SHRI KALAVA SRINIVASULU : I will speak in English.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: It is better.
SHRI KALAVA SRINIVASULU : It is my bounden duty to bring to the notice of the House, the recurring problem of droughts in my State of Andhra Pradesh. Two regions - Rayalaseema and Telangana - are chronically affected by droughts. Going by even the Government statistics, three years are drought hit out of every five years. Particularly Anantapur district, which I represent, is known for not only droughts but it is classified as being desertified.
As a consequence of the recurring and perennial droughts, all sections of people are put to untold sufferings. Particularly the worst hit sections are the landless, the women, the children and the older people from weaker sections. Large scale migration to the cities and greener areas is very common. Generally, the able-bodied persons from the families migrate leaving behind their women, children and the older people.
This temporary migration of men results in deterioration and disintegration in family relations causes more hunger and health problems among women and children who get little attention to their needs and problems.
The dry land farmers have to make huge investments every year to grow the crops and not even the investment comes back as a return because of the failure of rains. When the crops fail, to feed the family and their cattle is one problem and finding the investment for the next crop is another problem. While people themselves go hungry in the drought years, maintenance of cattle becomes impossible, if they have to buy the fodder and feed the cattle. So, the cattle are sold to slaughter houses mercilessly.
Another important problem as a result of drought is drinking water for both people and cattle as well.
In Rayalaseema and Telangana regions of Andhra Pradesh, poverty, ill health and illiteracy are common because of its economic backwardness. On top of this economic backwardness, the recurring droughts multiply and intensify the poverty and sufferings of people. The twin problems of drought and poverty cause a vicious cycle of backwardness and under-development of the regions of Rayalaseema and Telangana.
So, the problems of drought and backwardness of the region cause two kinds of problems. One kind of problem is the immediate problem and another kind of problem is the long-term problem. The immediate problems are starvation, ill health, slaughter of cattle, shortage of drinking water, migration of labour, etc.
The long-term problems are indebtedness, distress sale of assets, farmers' permanent migration to the towns, losing faith in agriculture and resorting to other anti-social activities like factions, illicit business, etc. Both kinds of problems have to be tackled with a sense of urgency and with a strong sense of determination.
Firstly, I submit that the droughts have to be recognised as a natural calamity. The norms applicable to floods have to be applied and immediate relief has to be provided. Under the short-term relief, large scale employment generation, providing drinking water, fodder supply, compensation for the loss of crops have to be provided on a war-footing.
Secondly, long-term measures have to be initiated to address the problem on a permanent basis. In order to address the problem on a permanent basis, it is inevitable to bring the surplus water of Krishna and Godawari to drought hit areas of Rayalaseema and Telangana.
Sir, renovation and restoration of existing irrigation and percolation tanks should be taken up immediately. Construction of a series of sub-surface dykes in the sand-beds of rivers is necessary. The next point is about the artificial rain research station at Anantapur. Rayalaseema and Telangana regions are located in what is known as `Rain Shadow Area' in deccan plateau. There is a need for artificial rain research station at Anantapur. This must be done immediately.
*SHRI RANEN BARMAN (BALURGHAT): Hon'ble Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, thank you very much for allowing me to participate in the important discussion under 193 related to the natural calamities affecting the States of Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Sir, 13 districts of my State of West Bengal have been severely affected due to devastating flood. Besides some more districts have more or less also been inundated. The overall estimate of loss in the whole State has been to the tune of Rs 2.5 thousand crores. In Malda alone, the flood related loss is estimated to be Rs 900 crore. There is total devastating loss and damage as far as agricultural crop is concerned. Due to erosion of the banks of the river Ganga, Murshidabad and Malda have been acutely confronted with devastating flood. As a result so many villages have been completely washed away. South Dinajpur has always been inundated severely every year because CPWD has constructed roads along the border of Bangladesh. But the number of bridge and culvert is far from adequate. The number of bridge is not at all sufficient resulting in acute flood in South Dinajpur every year. This fact is true for Malda also. So the same condition is prevailing in Malda also which is very near Bangladesh border.
So I earnestly appeal to construct sufficient number of bridges along the border so as to check the gruesome effect of flood. West Bengal Government has asked to release Rs 721 crores for relief. I urge upon the Government to release the money at the earliest. I also appeal to sanction fund to be utilized to check erosion of the banks of Ganga. Roads in our district and in
*Translation of the speech originally delivered in Bengali.
my constituency Balurghat are totally submerged due to heavy flood. There is total breakdown of communication in all the districts. In fact communication in every sphere collapses resulting in total disruption of normal life. People have to face immense hardship and this has become an annual feature. I appeal to raise the level of the roads from Malda to Balurghat. If the level of the road is raised, flood water won't be able to submerge the roads.
With these words, I conclude my speech and thank you for giving me an opportunity to participate in this important discussion.
SHRI K. YERRANNAIDU (SRIKAKULAM): Sir, I will take only three or four minutes. From my party some hon. Members have already spoken.
Due to failure of south-west monsoon, the State of Andhra Pradesh in general and Rayalaseema and Telangana in particular, is facing drought. There are as many as 500 taluk mandals in this area. Out of the total 1099 district rural mandals of Andhra Pradesh which come under the scanty and deficit category, 47 per cent of the mandals come in these areas.
The State Government has already assessed the loss at Rs. 2318 crore. The amount sought as Central assistance is Rs. 720.36 crore. The hon. Chief Minister has already submitted a memorandum to the Central Government. After the receipt of the memorandum, the Central team visited Andhra Pradesh and also submitted the report to the Central Government. The cyclone has hit my constituency, Srikakulam and also Orissa coast. The loss due to cyclone is assessed at Rs. 237 crore. Nearly 10 lakh coconut trees were uprooted and this has resulted in the loss of Rs. 200 crore and loss due to damages to roads and electrical installations is Rs. 37 crore. Two reports are pending with the Central Government. So far, not even a single rupee has been released to the State of Andhra Pradesh. The hon. Prime Minister visited Orissa and immediately announced Rs. 200 crore as Central assistance and Rs. 50 crore as grant. We are facing drought situation in Andhra Pradesh. The State Government has spent more money than allocated under Calamity Relief Fund. The budgetary resources of the Departments have already been strained due to the recent drought. We have taken up watershed programmes and water harvesting schemes in a big way. That is why I request the Union Government through you to immediately release the Central assistance to the affected States so that they can immediately take up the relief works in their respective States. At the Central level, the National Calamity Relief Fund is very meagre. Every year, the States like Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are facing either drought, flood or cyclone. The Union Government must enhance the National Calamity Relief Fund, as Rs.100 or Rs.200 crore are not sufficient to meet the relief works. I request that it may be increased to Rs.1000 crore so that sufficient amount could be released to the affected States. Unless this is done, the Central Government cannot extend any help to any State. There would only be aerial surveys or a Central team visiting the affected State and then submitting its Report. Without sufficient fund, it is not possible to help the affected State. I humbly request the Union Government to enhance the assistance given from the National Calamity Relief Fund. The State of Andhra Pradesh is facing drought. Both the Home Minister and the Minister of Agriculture hail from Andhra Pradesh. Entire Telangana is facing the drought and people are migrating to other States. To stop migration, the State Government has taken up a number of schemes but the funds are very meagre. So, my humble request to the Union Minister is to take necessary steps to release money to Andhra Pradesh to save it from this situation.