SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO : Sir, I shall take a few minutes more because I represent Jagatsinghpur, which is the worst affected area. Please do not ring your bell.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: You have already taken 20 minutes. I have given a caution bell.
SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO : I am smiling but the smile is not on my face.
Sir, it is a heart-rending incident. If the adopting States are really interested for reconstruction and restoration work, they should be given two items of work. One, they should rebuild all the public institutions from primary to college level which have been completely razed to the ground. Second, they should take a community house with high plinth area of say, 30 ft x 15 ft with 8 ft verandah on every side so that it can be used as a flood & cyclone shelter. That should be the work of the adopting villages. If they do not do that, they should not venture for calling it as adopted districts.
Road repairs should be taken up in right earnest and funds should be made available.
Thousands of looms have been destroyed and handlooms damaged. They should be revived and weavers should be assisted. Boats and nets are completely gone. Fishermen should be assisted financially to have their boats and nets.
Thousands of betel vines are razed to the ground. They are the lifeline of small and marginal farmers there. These farmers should be helped. Small-scale and village industries should be helped.
Plantation should also be taken up in right earnest. It should be taken up in such a manner that they could save the people in the State from Sun strokes and other hazards.
These are my suggestions, Mr. Prime Minister, Sir.
Sir, last but not the least, it has its advantages and it has also its necessities. It is for the psychological reasons, for the people of the affected areas to declare this calamity as a `national calamity.' Mr. Prime Minister, from day one you have been telling that you have been treating this calamity as a national calamity. But Sir, if you are treating this as a national calamity, then what prevents you to declare it as a national calamity? What is the difficulty there?
If there is a political overone, I am telling, let that be so. Sir, the psychology of the affected people is that Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a magnanimous man... (Interruptions)...I am telling the psychology of the affected people.
I have written a letter to the hon. Prime Minister. But I have not received the acknowledgment. Of course, I have received the acknowledgment from the Home Minister but I have not received any acknowledgment from the Prime Minister as yet to whom I have addressed.
Sir, there are reports in the Press that there is no provision in the Statute to declare it as a national calamity.
In the Report of the Tenth Finance Commission, it has been clearly mentioned at page 44, para 9.18 and I quote:
"Once a calamity is deemed to be of rare severity (which you have recognized), it really ought to be dealt with - I repeat, it really ought to be dealt with - as a national calamity requiring assistance and support beyond what is envisaged in the CRF Scheme."
It ought to be dealt with as a national calamity. It is treated as a national calamity and it has been dealt with as a national calamity. But what is wrong in declaring it as a national calamity just to save the people?
It is only a psychological satisfaction. It will not bring anything more to them. Suppose you have declared it as a national calamity and did not give any grant, what does it mean by declaration. But what is wrong in declaring it as a national calamity? It will give enough psychological and emotional strength to those ravaged people. For this reason, I request you to please declare it as a national calamity a hundred times. If it is not a national calamity. What else can it be? Look at the magnitude and extent of the loss and damage; look at the magnitude of the loss of lives. If this is not a national calamity, what else can be called a national calamity? Should we not say that it is a national calamity? I request you to say, `I declare, I say, a hundred times in this largest abode of the largest democracy of the world that it is a national calamity.' This is a request not just of political persons.
Shri Naveen Patnaik had gone to the interior ravaged villages and everywhere he was asked, `What happened to the declaration of a national calamity?' This demand has been growing everywhere. Maybe, it is political but forget the politics and give that emotional strength to the people. My request is that it should be declared a national calamity not under pressure from us but on the prayer of the millions of ravaged people of Orissa.
I, in this august House of the largest democracy, appeal to you, the Central Government, the States of India, all the State Governments of any political hue and colour and to the world community at large to come forward to assist us. We are not extending our begging hands. As a matter of right of human beings, I am requesting then through this House to come forward to assist Orissa to rebuild Orissa, to rebuild a new Orissa. Let this cyclone be turned into an opportunity for building a new, modern and prosperous Orissa.
Matters under rule 377 will be laid on the Table of the House. ... (
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Under what rule are you raising your point of order? Please quote the rule.
SHRI VIJAY GOEL : My point of order is under rule 377 and I am quoting the rule:
"A member who wishes to bring to the notice of the House a matter which is not a point of order, shall give notice in writing to the Secretary-General specifying clearly and precisely the text of the matter to be raised. The member shall be permitted to raise it only after the Speaker has given his consent and at such time and date as the Speaker may fix."
You have not permitted us to raise it.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: It says:
"The Member shall be permitted to raise it only after the Speaker has given his consent and at such time and date as the Speaker may fix."
SHRI VIJAY GOEL : You may fix the next date.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The hon. Speaker can give a ruling to the effect that the matters under rule 377 can be treated as laid, as has been the precedent earlier. You are not a new Member.
SHRI VIJAY GOEL : It is not the question of precedent.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Umpteen number of times, they had been treated as laid.
SHRI VIJAY GOEL : I am not talking of the precedent. I am talking of the rule. When the rule is there, you have to only postpone it.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: There is no point of order
SHRI VIJAY GOEL : Sir, you can fix another date for this. This is my submission.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I have already told it. You have quoted the rule; you have also mentioned about the other matter. As a special case, I permitted that hon. Member to make his submission. The Chair has the right; and the hon. Home Minister also reacted to it.
it is to be laid on the Table of the House. That is my submission.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I said, "It is treated as laid on the Table of the House".
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Goel, you are a senior Member. This is not the first time I am doing it like this. It had been done umpteen number of times in the past. There is no point of order.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please cooperate with the Chair. Now, Shri Madhavrao Scindia.
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA (GUNA): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, on the night of the 29th and 30th October, a cyclone of unprecedented proportion hit the coastal areas of Orissa and went as far as 60 to 70 or almost 100 kms. into Denkanal and Angul areas; it is unprecedented over the last one hundred years.
We all know of the magnitude of this super cyclone which followed a cyclone of lesser proportions, but nevertheless a cyclone, on the 17th and 18th of October, off the Gopalpur coast in Ganjam district. The storm was accompanied by torrential rains from the 29th of October to the 1st of November. The average rainfall over 35,000 sq. kms. was 600 mm. and the wind velocity was 300 kmph.
I do not have to repeat it over and over again. But I am afraid when we start talking about super cyclone and the proportion that it reached, one cannot help but get emotionally involved and visualize the scene that must have existed at that time. Therefore we go into these vivid descriptions. Thirteen districts were affected; telecommunications, roads and other transport facilities have completely broken down.
We visited - Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and I, as the General Secretary in charge of that State - the areas two days later. They were under sheet of water. I am very happy that the Prime Minister also attempted to visit the areas, but due to bad weather conditions it became impossible for him to do so. At that particular time, that is, after 48 hours, I was quite amazed when we reached Bhubaneswar Airport, even Air Force helicopters were not able to land in spite of the tremendous efforts by the Indian Air Force; they just managed to land, only a little before we reached.
To add to this cyclonic fury, there was flood fury in three major rivers -- Baitarani, Budhabalanga and Shalandi -- which inundated large portions of territory. Due to cyclone one side is under a sheet of water and on the other side
You can imagine the havoc. Unless you visit the place, it becomes difficult to visualise. Twenty lakh houses have been destroyed. One and a half crore people have been affected. Millions and millions of cattle wealth have also got destroyed. It is estimated that fifteen to twenty lakh hectares of crop have gone under water. The loss is estimated at about Rs. 2,000 crore. This is the unprecedented velocity of the natural disaster that took place earlier on 16th and 17th and then on 29th and 30th. We are extremely grateful to the defence forces -- the Army, the Air Force and the Navy -- for the tremendous assistance that they have rendered. Without them, it would have been impossible to reach the marooned area. There is no doubt about that. We have to understand the full magnitude before we start taking the critical appraisal of events.
Such a large number of people - I think about 50 to 60 per cent population of Orissa must be residing in the coastal districts - were involved and naturally that affected the Secretariat. As their families were involved in those coastal districts, we found that suddenly the people living in the coastal districts, which supply the main personnel to the Government administrative services, out of sheer worry for their loved ones just as you and I would do, immediately tried to go to the districts to find about their well-being. That added to the problem.
I am glad that the State Government immediately marshalled whatever resources it has to meet the requirements. The State Government's request to the Union Government is justifiably a very large amount and it looks large because it is unprecedented. When we talk of Rs.10,000 crore, it is not something to be laughed away. It is a fact that that much amount of money will be required. Whatever assistance the Armed Forces gave, we are happy that we got their cooperation. Apart from that, many State Governments rallied to the course. I do not have to go through what each State Government has done. It will be suffice to state that the State Governments of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and in their own ways, the Governments of Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Nagaland - West Bengal being a border State where a lot of people were affected, could feel the human pain and misery more vividly possibly - could get together the resources. There may be some other States which I might have omitted to mention, I think we are grateful to all the State Governments that have assisted a State Government in its hour of need. It is hoped that this effort will continue. It seems that the State Governments which have assisted are firm in their resolve. This is something which on human grounds is to be welcomed.
Sir, the initiator of this discussion talked about declaring this as the national calamity of rarest severity. He has already mentioned the Report of the Tenth Finance Commission. My hon. friend in Government, Shri George Fernandes, time and time again, has declared over media, "Show me that scrap of paper on which this is written". This is a copy of the Report of the Tenth Finance Commission for December, 1994. It has been read out by the initiator of the discussion. I would just like to go on to say that the Commission whilst understanding that there are some occasions which cannot be dealt with by the State Relief Fund, has talked about these extraordinary situations. Therefore, they have made this proposal stating that, "We, therefore, propose that in addition to the CRF, the Calamity Relief Fund in the State, a National Calamity Relief Fund should be created which the Centre and the States will subscribe to and it will be managed by a National Calamity Relief Committee. I think that the Union Agriculture Minister is the Chairman of the Committee and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and the Finance Minister are the ex-officio Members along with five Chief Ministers in rotation. This organ has been set up to deal with this situation. When the Finance Commission has recognised that we need an institution to deal with a human tragedy of proportions that cannot be even envisaged, surely it is also incumbent on Government not merely to operate through this, not merely to give the beleaguered State access to the National Calamity Relief Fund but equally and maybe more importantly to create the atmosphere and the psychology in the country that there is a major calamity that has struck a part of our country and for that we expect the Union Government to go all the way. The affected State Government, of course, will have to do the same. To create that atmosphere, there should be a tremendous effort and nothing should be spared.
But what are we doing in the last three weeks or so? The Union Government is just debating about semantics, about the use of words, like `we will not declare it as such, we want to treat it as such and so on'. What is this? What is the problem? There is access to the National Calamity Relief Fund in any case, but it is not enough. Only Rs.200 crore has come from it. The Government should also give the entire calamity a profile, a profile of importance. A Chief Minister of a particular State - in this case Orissa but it can happen anywhere - saying this can never carry the same weight as the Prime Minister saying it. Therefore, it should be declared from the Centre. Why the Government is hesitating? The moment the hesitation is there, the moment the debate begins, people start wondering, why is this happening.
Is it possible that it may not be of that proportion? Is it possible that there may be an exaggeration? Why is the Centre hesitant or apprehensive about it?
Sir, the Prime Minister attempted twice to visit the affect areas. Unfortunately, both the times due to bad weather and rains, he was unable to land. Therefore, he had to take a view from 15,000 feet or 20,000 feet. It is no fault of his. But we believe that that sincere effort could have been continued further. We would still say that it is not too late. This is a situation -- I am sure the Prime Minister agrees with me -- where there is no space or place for politics. There cannot be. Therefore, I would besiege the Prime Minister even now to go on the National Television and declare an SOS, address the nation and tell them what it is all about. We will acclaim and applaud if you do this because as I said there is no space for politics.
So our request and appeal to you is to go on the national television.
The other day some media persons had come from the United States of America for a seminar here. About a week ago, I had met and talked to them. I said that this massive cyclone which you may not be even begin to understand had 15 million people fall backwards... (Interruptions).
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Whose cell phone is ringing?
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (BOLPUR): That should be confiscated.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Yes. Time and again, we have been warning about this.
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA : I asked them what sort of coverage is this unprecedented cyclone receiving in the American newspapers? I was told by these media people that there was not much coverage and far less than the earthquake in Turkey. Now earthquake in Turkey was also a very major disaster. Our heart went out to all those who were affected. But if Turkey's was a disaster then this was the grandfather of all disasters. Yet the newspapers in America do not give much priority to this. Why? If the Chief Minister of a State goes on the television, very little attention is going to be given to him. But if the Prime Minister of a country goes on to television, he will attract not only more national attention but also more international attention. Instead of that, we are quibbling about whether it should be declared or whether it should be treated as a national calamity or what the Oxford English dictionary does say about this particular phrase.