Let us work in unison on this. This is what I am enquiring everyday on picking up the newspaper. Some time one Union Minister is making some statement and some time another Union Minister is making some statement. I was surprised to read that Shri George Fernandes has made a statement about Orissa asking the Centre to stop aid. And more than that he has gone on to say that the decision appear to be politically motivated. Now I would appeal to you that even if Shri George Fernandes was convinced that this was so, there is a time and place to say something. He is a Union Minister who is occupying a very senior position. Could he not restrain and get his honed finely tuned, political instincts over the last 50 years, and just manage to control them in this situation even if he was convinced about it?
I will deal with this a little later.
I would request the Prime Minister even now to declare it as such. There are ways and ways by which you can still do so. There is no question of any face-saving or any prestige. We are not going to run around in circles, Mr. Prime Minister, and say that it is our victory, we have finally got it declared. It would not come from us. We will be happy and we will be grateful. I do not have to tell you; you are a person who has been in Parliament and in politics much much before I am. So, I will have the restraint not to tell you this. But it will be becoming the dignity of the Prime Minister. Please go on to the national television even now. Please give it exposure. Once it acquires profile, you will find the response nationally doubling and redoubling and international agencies also taking note of this.
We were talking about the nature of the requirements. I would like to just mention here that even now the State Government is woefully short of supplies in certain sectors. Polythene rolls are very difficult to acquire. There are new orders being placed and we still have a heavy demand for polythene rolls. So, before the distribution area can get into operation, the relief material must arrive. If there is something that can be done to help accelerate the production of polythene rolls and the obtaining of polythene rolls, that should be done. The same I would like to say about blankets. The Orissa Government is still requiring a very large number of blankets and of course reassurance about the relief funds. The Chief Minister had made a plea that Rs.500 crore should be immediately given. But, for final relief operations he was requiring a much much larger amount. The State is naturally worried because the finances of the State ...(Interruptions)
Let us not bring all this, please. It is not a matter of mirth. For God's sake, be a little serious. Hundreds of people have lost their lives and all you can do is interject with what you think is jocular.
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO (KALAHANDI): Will you please yield for a moment? I am on a point of order.
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA : I am not yielding to you.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: He is on a point of order.
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA : He is a new Member. He does not know what a point of order is.
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO : My point of order is about the statement that he has made.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please quote the rule.
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO : Rule 376. I would like to ask the hon. Member.... (Interruptions)
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : How can he ask?
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO : I would like to ask the Chair. Through you Sir, I would like to say that the statement made by the hon. Member....
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please read the rule. It says:
"376.(1) A point of order shall relate to the interpretation or enforcement of these rules or such Articles of the Constitution as regulate the business of the House and shall raise a question which is within the cognizance of the Speaker."
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO : It is within the rules. It is specifically regarding the cyclone. The hon. Member is making a statement regarding the inability of the Central Government to meet the requirements. But today it is seen that in Orissa they are having an intra-party squabble.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: This is no point of order. Nothing will go on record.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I have given the ruling that there is no point of order.
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA : I am not trying to score points here. I am saying it in all seriousness because I do want a response from the hon. Prime Minister or the hon. Minister for Agriculture or whoever would be replying. The amount that has so far been given to the Orissa State Government is Rs.650 crore. Of this, Rs. 200 crore has come from the National Calamity Relief Fund. It has either been spent or has been apportioned. Something like Rs.98 crore of the second grant is in the process of being spent. This leaves a balance of Rs.450 crore. The financial situations in all the States of the country is one which causes worry to all State Governments. Therefore, the State Government has been asking for clarification because the Centre has been saying, "Here is another Rs.450 crores. Spend the money; we will tell you afterwards how we will treat it." Now, naturally, they have a planned budget; they have certain development projects and certain expenditure problem. What happens is that all this money is being spent because there is no alternative. But in this situation, it should be reassured in your reply that this will also be treated as grant because at present Rs.100 crore is given as advance additional Central assistance under externally-aided projects which is due to the State eventually. An approximate amount of Rs. 40 crore is being given as normal Central assistance release in advance for the months of December, 1999 and a part of January, 2000 and Rs.10 crore for the fourth instalment. An amount of Rs.200 crore is being given as advance release, shared Central taxes for the months of December, 1999 and a part of January, 2000. Again, it _____________________________________________________________________________
is something which is due to the State, which comes in normal course but is given as advance. Then, there is ways and means advance of Rs.100 crore. Sir, this sum of Rs.450 crore is carrying 9 per cent interest and has to be repaid on 31st March, 2000 officially and technically. It may be in your mind that ultimately you will treat it as something else and waive it. But why don't you make these announcements now?
Shrimati Gandhi went with a deputation alongwith Dr. Manmohan Singh and myself to meet the Prime Minister and he had also assured that he will be looking into it. Dr. Manmohan Singh had written a letter but we have not received any reply to it. So, we would like a reassurance that these amounts are not being advanced against normal expenditure and normal budgets. Some of them are carrying 9 per cent interest which will be charged, some of them are asked to be repaid on 31st March, 2000 but they are special grants.
I think some more work is required to be done and the assistance of the Union Government is very much required in the international area. I think it will be very helpful if foreign missions and embassies are instructed to create awareness in various world capitals on this particular issue and to take it up with organisations which gear up to assist other countries in such circumstances.
Finally, there is a need immediate relief material, food, dhotis, sarees, garments, utensils, blankets, polyethylene rolls and direct financial help. But in the medium term, there will be more activity which needs to be coordinated alongwith the Union Government. We seek your assistance in matters like the construction of dwelling units, community shelters, schools I am very happy that a team from the HRD Ministry has been asked to go and visit Orissa - supply of books, embankments, roads, bridges, agricultural materials, veterinary and rabi campaign which are extremely important so that they can recover at least something.
Then, employment through relief work, financial relief for the destitutes, drinking water and then, of course, the much-longer term rehabilitation plans come in. If the World Bank and the other major institutions could be involved in it in Orissa, we would be very grateful.
I finally once again like to say that it is most unfortunate and a matter of great regret that some views are manifested by some Ministers. I would request the hon. Prime Minister to try and curtail the sort of views that are manifested by some of the Members of his Council of Ministers who visited Orissa. They seem to try to infuse some politics into the whole venture because there may be an Assembly election a few months away. I do not even want to name those few Ministers because I do not want to get into a squabble on this. But all I can say is that it is entirely untrue what those Ministers have said. As far as the role of the Orissa Government is concerned, I think it is entirely untrue. I categorically refute what they have said about it. I would just say that even in your mind if you are even convinced about it, this is not the time to make your views known because let us have an atmosphere of cooperation. In that spirit, let us try and ensure that relief reached those who have really been harmed, those who have lost their loved ones and those who have lost everything they had in the world. So, this is my appeal.
SHRI ANADI SAHU (BERHAMPUR, ORISSA): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, on the 18th of October, the Southern part of Orissa and a part of Andhra Pradesh was visited by a cyclonic fury. As if the Nature was not happy with that, it came with a redoubled fury on the 29th and caused extensive damage to 12 districts. I am talking of both the cyclone and the resultant flood.
Before I go into this matter, I would like to speak something about the Indian Meteorological Department. They had given the warning on the 25th about the storm being raised 500 km. away from the Andamans. They had assessed the track of the cyclone. I am not casting an aspersion on anyone. But the storm came to Paradip, hovered around Paradip for about six hours and then hoved around for 48 hours inside the land but it was not tracked properly.
It is a fact that when there is a cyclone, there will be moisture content with in the wind which will cause severe torrential rains. It was the duty of the Meteorological Department to assess as to what would be the moisture content inside the land even after 48 hours. For about 48 hours, with a wind speed of 100 kms., there was torrential rain all around which caused more havoc in two districts, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj and the nearby areas, as a result of which a number of rivers had changed their course. I again say that it is not an aspersion on anyone. It is something of a weakness on our part not to be able to find out what type of cyclone could be coming and what type of damages it would cause. Yes, it is a cyclone of severe intensity which is unprecedented in the history. But the State Government had the smug satisfaction of being able to tackle it in their own way although they had the experience of the cyclone of the 18th of October. This is not a place to recite English poetry. But I would definitely like to recite a stanza of the English poetry where it has been said:
"I falter where I firmly tread
And falling with my weight and cares
I gather dust and chaff."
That is what has happened to the Orissa Government on the 29th and thereafter. They had the experience of the cyclones. It might be a fact that they had become pygmies in front of the insurmountable difficulties experienced on the 29th of October, 1999. But even after two weeks, the pygmy could have come up to its own stature of governance and could have dealt with this matter in a more appropriate manner.
Till now, 10,000 dead bodies have been found out and most of the dead bodies have been found out by the R.S.S., the Anand Margis and the Army. The Government functionaries did not do anything. Even today, there is evidence to show that the dead bodies are still in their watery biers. The bodies are being recovered from water. As the water is receding, the bodies are coming out. Is it not the duty of the Government of the State to ensure that some sort of a solace is given to the lonely persons who have been hovering around, famished, emaciated and cadaverous? What has happened now? Even now, people have been telling that relief has not gone to the deep interiors of Ersema. In Ersema, the coastal areas, there has been illegal immigration. The illegal immigrants have been staying there for the last 25 to 30 years. We do not have any account of those people. They have been Bangladeshis and because they have been allowed to stay there, the mangrove forest was completely denuded and the casuarina forest had completely vanished as a result of which the super cyclone with 300 kilometre per hour wind speed had completely come inside. The creeks had been taken over by the aquaculture people as a result of which the five or six metre fury of tides could not be checked and we have faced all these difficulties.
My hon. friends from the Congress Party have said many things about whether it is a natural calamity or a national calamity. The tenor of the words, as Shri George Fernandes has said, does not show that it has to be declared as a national calamity, but it has to be dealt with as a national calamity. Now, it has been dealt with as a national calamity. If you go into the details, you will know that it has been dealt with like that only. In the Calamity Relief Fund, it is indicated that 75 per cent and 25 per cent is the ratio of funding of the Centre and the State for the money that has to be spent. But when it is a near national calamity or in the nature of national calamity, the Government of India has to give funds. The Government of India has already given Rs.950 crore, out of which some amount is the Plan Advance and some amount is the Grant. But what has happened to this money?
In the first phase, an amount of Rs.50 crore had to be given to Ganjam district wherefrom I come. Till now, - I have the report from the Collector that he has received only Rs.26.50 crore and where has the other money gone? The hon. Minister, Shri Shanta Kumar had been to Orissa and he has categorically said that 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of rice has been given to the State. But till now, the State Govt. have only lifted 90,000 metric tonnes out of which I have got the Special Relief Commissioner's report - only 45,000 tonnes have been distributed. Who is to be blamed? The people are going without food. As I see from the report of the Special Relief Commissioner, who has been placed under suspension because of some scam here and there, 1,70,000 polythene sheets only have been given, although 1.50 crore people are affected. Taking into consideration that a family consists of five persons, it would come to about 30 lakh families and 30 lakh people must get 30 lakh polythene sheets.
Sir, it is a fact that in Orissa - and it must be well taken care of now - that human values have come down. In 1866, Orissa had a great famine when the landed gentry and the upper caste people would not accept doles from the Government. Now, whatever is going, whether he is a wealthy man or whether he belongs to the upper caste or anything of the sort or whether he has a pucca house, he is demanding his share of polythene sheets and rice. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has sent rice at the rate of Rs.13 per kilogram and these people who are in power have appropriated - I do not call it misappropriation - the rice and one does not know where the rice has gone. I had made a request to the hon. Minister not to send rice which is costly because that will go to the black market. Now, in Kalinga Stadium, you will find hundreds of trucks which are lying idle and which requires about 100 officers to tackle the problem. But the State Government has kept only three officers. These are the things which require some sort of an introspection. I do not say whether it is a natural calamity or a national calamity or a calamity of severest nature but it is of severe malodministration.
Action has been taken only to politicise these figures. Why should we make so much of a hullabaloo? Let us face it. Money has been going. But it has to be spent properly. That is not being done. I would not go into the details because all the details have been spoken about by my friends here.
The total manpower loss is about 20,000 human beings. The deaths are 20,000. About 5,000 are missing here and there. But what is required is that we have to deal with it in a very proper manner to look to the people who are hungry, malnutritioned and living in polluted atmosphere. Polluted atmosphere means that there is no drinking water. The Air Force had been dropping food packets. They were not able to drop canisters or barrels with water because it would have burst. Even now, people have been drinking water from polluted areas where carcasses are lying and somewhere dead human bodies are lying.
A Task Force has been constituted. My earnest request to the Government is: kindly take the local representatives or Ministers who are there from Orissa to be Members of the Task Force. So, they would give some suggestions and would ask for some remedy here and there. That would be more appropriate and more constructive in its approach.
Now, I would only tell about the short-term requirements. The short term requirement is for polythene. I do not know whether a kilogram of polythene would cost Rs. 74 or not. But on 18th October, I had enquired that it was between Rs. 50 and Rs. 60 because of the emergent situation. The State Government has procured it from Delhi at the rate of Rs. 74 per kilogram. It is up to the House to decide as to whether it was a scam or not. I would not like to dilate on that matter. But polythene sheets are immediately required. Take the coastal area. The blankets are required. Food materials are required: 15 kilogram to 20 kilogram per PPL and 10 kilogram to 15 kilogram per APL. All these things have to be taken care of by the State Government and not the Central Government. Food materials are going. FCI have been giving this. But there is an intermediary supply agent and storage agent. He is making a lot of profit from this thing. That intermediary system should go. It should go directly from the FCI to the Gram Panchayat. That should be the way food materials and medicines should be distributed. The people are dying in large numbers. You will find from the SRC's reportthat he has indicated 197 snakebites and one death. I do not know, whether because of the severe cyclone, the snakes have lost their venom and only one person has died. These are the statistics which have been given. It seems that the snakes have disappeared. I do not know about crocodiles whether they have also disappeared into the sea through the innumerable creeks which have been opened now. Long-term planning has to be done. The first long-term planning is shelters along the coast. My suggestion is that at every five kilometres along the 480 kilometres of the Orissa coast, storm and cyclone shelters should be provided. The shelters should be like this. It should be a two-tier system as a two-storey building. The ground floor could be used for schools and the first floor for storm shelters. One such centre is there at Gopalpur-on-sea which has been doing good work. In Andhra Pradesh also, there are a number of cyclone shelters. This should be taken up on a long-term basis.