Therefore, I suggest that this cyclone should be declared as a national calamity. Why we are saying this is that once we declare it as a national calamity, then international aid can come in a big way. International Red Cross can come if it is declared as a national calamity. As you know, International Red Cross has a very big periphery of mobilising help from all the countries. Therefore, this is one of the most important points for declaring it as a national calamity.
I will not go into many other things. Providing drinking water, medicines, etc. are immediately necessary and these have already been mentioned. I need not repeat those things. But, as I said, that has to be done taking the priority into consideration as to which one has to be taken first; which one has to be taken next so that the greatest comfort can be given to the people, our own brothers and sisters, who are suffering so much.
I once again appeal to the Central Government to declare this as a national calamity because that will give us more help from all over the world. Therefore, let us not stand on formality or see what is written where because codes are not such that they are more important than human lives. To save the human lives, every code can be changed. If any code has to be changed, let it be changed. For that we are all with you and we all will be supporting it. Therefore, I hope that the Government will take into consideration and declare it as an event of a national calamity.
Thank you, Sir.
SHRI BIKRAM KESHARI DEO (KALAHANDI): Mr. Chairman, Sir, we are discussing cyclone again. At this time, the cyclone was of rare severity and it hit the coast of Orissa at a speed of 300 kilometres. It was like a bolt out of the blue for the people residing in the 14 districts, especially, the area between Paradip, Eresma and Jagatsinghpur. The constituencies of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara were severely hit and the life of the people has been completely disturbed there. It will remain like that for a couple of months if the Government both at the State and Central levels does not come to its rescue.
But, Sir, it has been seen that the hon. Prime Minister has reacted to this cyclone with utmost interest and with utmost attention. This Government has reacted and all the Cabinet Ministers, with the Defence Minister at the head of the Task Force, have visited the area and have assessed the severity of the situation there. Accordingly, to get life on the track, they have taken immediate and severe steps on war-footing, and also money has been granted.
Sir, as you know, Orissa has been a land of natural calamities. The people are used to cyclone but they are not used to a cyclone of this severity. They were unprepared for it. The cyclone centred in around Paradip for six hours. When it came up at six o'clock in the morning, during that time, it was not that serious. But eventually, it developed into a severe cyclone at night at about 10 o'clock when the whole of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara were sleeping. So, the people were taken unaware by it. Therefore, the Central Government has taken very severe steps to improve this.
We also thank the Army who could reach Kendrapara area on the 3rd and they did their due. When they reached there, without the Army, the State machinery was completely lost. They were stunned. The entire State machinery was stunned because I visited Paradip on the 3rd with the PTI reporter. There, the sight was horrifying. There were funeral pyres of 300-400 bodies. They were being burnt. Then, there was sea water everywhere. The only dry place was the express highway built in 1962 by the late lamented Biju Patnaik who was the then Chief Minister. That was the only place of shelter on the highway. Lakhs of people were on that highway. We had to negotiate that difficulty and reach Paradip. On reaching Paradip, it was noticed that there was no potable drinking water. There was not a morsel of grain. The doctors from Andhra Pradesh had just reached. The Army had just landed. It was only by the help of the Navy that the supplies were able to reach Paradip and Jagatsinghpur ports and other affected areas. Therefore, Sir, a long-term plan has to be drawn out. Already, the hon. Prime Minister and the Government have treated this calamity as a national calamity. There is no doubt about it. It is quite strange that from the Opposition Benches, views are coming to declare it as a national calamity. Statutes do not say that. The Statutes say that a calamity of this nature has to be dealt like a national calamity and it is being dealt like a national calamity. The international community has heard about this national calamity which is being dealt by the Central Government. The United Nations has reacted; the American Government has reacted to it; and the whole world has reacted to this calamity and accepted the fact that this type of human tragedy has to be curtailed because it is like the aftermath of a war. The aftermath of the war is evident in these coastal districts.
You will be surprised to see that there is no drinking water even today. Today, we salute the RSS and the Utkal Vipan Sahayata Samiti who are doing commendable work there. They are the people who are doing Shavasanskar. They are taking the bodies and consigning them to the flames. They are the people who are taking the cattle, the dead carcasses and consigning them to the flames. It is because of that, there is shortage of kerosene now. Shortage is being felt there. Therefore, day before yesterday, my Party had advised me to go to the district of Puri which has not been so severely affected but parts of Aslam and Kakatpur have been severely affected.
I was surprised to see that the State machinery there has completely failed till date. One month has elapsed after the cyclone, but today, if you go and ask the people there, they have only received five kilograms of rice in one month. So, this is how the State Government is functioning. It has completely failed. There is a scandal of purchase of polythene. So, all these things have to be thought with severity and a long-termaction plan has to be drawn out to get back to normalcy in these areas. As pointed out by the hon. Members of the House, it has been seen that most of the land is inundated and devastated; no paddy can grow at places where three feet of saline mud is to be removed. That is a marathon task. Crores of paddy fields have been destroyed which is a mainstay of the agriculture of that area. If you go deeper, you will see that lakhs and lakhs of cattle have perished which is the mainstay of the agriculturists who depend on the plough. And if you go deeper into it, you will see that the farming community has completely collapsed.
Again today I thank my Government that every Minister who has visited Orissa has given a package- be it the Ministry of Surface Department; be it the Tribal Welfare; be it the Ministry of Defence; be it the Department of Small Scale Industries; be it the Ministry of Civil Supplies or the Ministry of Food. They have given a comprehensive package, but how do we go about the package? How is it that the package reaches the poor people who have been affected? That machinery is lacking in the State of Orissa.
I am sorry to say with a heavy heart that during this type of calamity, their internal party squabbles are going on. The people who should be working in the fields in Kendrapara and in Jagatsinghpur-what we gather from the people today-are at Delhi lobbying as to who the next Chief Minister would be. What a tragedy is this? The human misery is being felt not at Orissa but the human misery is being played with at Delhi as to who will be our next Chief Minister.
Sir, definitely our Government will come out with a very big package and this has to be dealt with meticulously, otherwise the misery can never be mitigated.
Sir, with these few words, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak.
SHRI BRAJA KISHORE TRIPATHY (PURI): Sir, please allow some of the Members from the affected areas.
SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI (RAIGANJ): Mr. Chairman, Sir, I join and associate myself with all the Members of this House to express, first of all, solidarity to the people of Orissa and to appreciate the role played by almost all the State Governments and social organisations in the recent crisis in Orissa.
Sir, on this matter, I think, all parties should join together in this House without any political acrimony from this or that side to evaluate the gravity of the situation and to respond as a nation to the cause of Orissa with total commitment and dedication for the revival and construction for future. This is a State which gave us a number of leaders in our national movement; this is a State which is producing talents, academicians and scholars; and this is a State which faced poverty year after year and yet things did not improve.
This is not the time to discuss politics. I shall confine myself only to a few of my suggestions at this hour.
Sir, the crisis is not done by the political parties, either at the Centre or in the States. Some say, it is an act of God. We also say, it is an act of God, but it is a natural disaster of a magnitude we have never seen before. As Shrimati Geeta Mukherjee was telling, some of the people of Orissa at the grassroot level are really crying and crying. They are saying: Let us get poison and die. So, we should understand their plight from that point. The Prime Minister who is here, has visited Orissa a number of times with his Cabinet colleagues. The leader of our party and the Leader of the Opposition, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi has also paid visits and had several interactions. Today, if we all join together to respond to the situation and to offer constructive suggestions, that could perhaps liberate Orissa from the present crisis. We hope we shall commit and dedicate ourselves to that without taking any political mileage out of this issue.
Natural calamity and national calamity are two different things. My dear colleague and friend Shri George Fernandes many a time was very vociferous on this issue - for which we appreciate him - that nobody in this country is supreme than the Parliament. The supremacy of the Parliament has always been adhered to. If there are some shortcomings in any of the statutes, and if there is any lacuna anywhere for which we cannot declare this calamity as a national calamity to mop up resources, then what for are we sitting here in the Parliament? We can decide the course of action ourselves. We can give our observations and the Government can bring out an enactment as and when it feels necessary, if not tomorrow. Why can we not do it? The presence of the Finance Minister was very much essential today. I know the Prime minister is the Head of the Government, but I also know that ultimately Shri Nitish Kumar, who is a very dynamic person and whom the Prime Minister perhaps thought it fit to bring from the Ministry of Surface Transport to the Ministry of Agriculture - and I thank him for his judgement has to respond so far as relief is concerned. But Shri Nitish Kumar cannot do anything unless the Finance Minister spells out his capacity in the Government at the moment, keeping in view the forthcoming Budget and then find out what additional resources the entire nation can mobilise, both from within and outside. I was told that after the earthquake in Latur, it was Shri Manmohan Singh who gave his wise advice at that time that granting aid and assistance through the World Bank at one per cent interest only for a forty-year slab was necessary for the rehabilitation of the victims. Such kind of talents and experts can be utilised in this hour of peril to see how resources can be mopped up to save Orissa from total disaster. Through you, Sir, I would like to address to the hon. Prime Minister to first find out the ways and means. If any semicolon, comma, full stop or a jugglery of words is preventing him to declare it as a national calamity, he can use his own wisdom and come forward with a proposal. The entire Parliament, without any deviation here or there, will stand by him on this matter. He should come forward with the proposal as to how and in what manner the Government can mobilise the resources. After all, we have paid extra levy after the war with Pakistan in 1971 for the refugees from Bangladesh. If the Government feels that they should come out with an additional levy, we will consider it with the patriotic responsibility. To defend the cause of Orissa and to mop up additional resources, I think the Government should come forward with that proposal and the Parliament will not get into any controversy in this matter because this, as I said, is a cause concerning the entire nation and is not limited to Orissa alone. Orissa is a part of India and it is suffering now. India cannot keep quiet at this hour.
1754 hours (Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I further request through you that let the package not be a package in an isolated manner - one from the Ministry of Surface Transport, one from the Railways, and like that. Let there be a comprehensive package for the economic revival of Orissa. The construction plan should come out of this package. Forget the plan estimate. Annual Plan estimate is a routine thing for Orissa. This crisis that has created this situation in Orissa is not requiring a plan assistance of routine nature.
It is a total reconstruction and revival plan for which our Parliament has to put the stamp of approval. If you come out here for that reason with a comprehensive plan of action and package and seek the mandate of the House, I think everyone of us, who is present here, will only ditto of what you require for the revival of Orissa. This is the second thing.
The first priority should be given to another aspect. I fully share the concern of other Members to desalinate the land for the salinated water is there. The agricultural crops, not for today but for many many years, are going to be lost.
I thank the Members from Orissa and through them the respective parties and especially the people of Puri for one reason. A lot of tourists from our State were locked up in Puri during the cyclone. I salute the people of Orissa that right from the poorest to the hotel owners they took care of all the tourists including dignity of women risking everything that they have without asking for any extra charges from them. They said : 'You have come to visit our State; we may be in a crisis but we will not put you in a crisis'. I heard it from many people. I can understand the greatness of the people of Orissa, especially the town of Puri as to how they stood by the outsiders when they lost everything at their own home.
Therefore, I strongly feel that we should not discuss politics at all in this subject. We should stand by the people of Orissa. Yes, when the elections come, let us score politics. But now we shall concentrate on the revival and restoration programme.
Sir, subjects like educational institutions, electricity, drinking water, health and industry have been dealt quite at length by many respected Members and various other groups. But the ideal plan could be, apart from your revival plan, to find out the experts. During the discussion on the subject in the previous Session, hon. Member Shri N. Janardana Reddy was dealing with the subject and he made a very noble suggestion. We may have everything. We may have the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The armed forces and the 'Operation Sahayata' might be doing excellent job. We support them and salute them. But we still lack - at the end of this 20th century - the actual technical expertise for the crisis management in such devastation like cyclone. We lack what is there in Hawaii, in the U.S. and in the Florida. Even in the recent disaster in Turkey, we are told the technical experts have evaluated a crisis management plan within 48 hours. We are lacking that expertise.
Therefore, this suggestion was mooted by Shri Janardana Reddy the other day. Can you think of or can the Government conceive of an idea of a kind of an institute of national disaster management, not for today but whenever we have such a situation on a regular basis? ...(Interruptions)
SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO : It is there in the Indian Institute of Public Administration. ...(Interruptions)
SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : No, I am not saying that. There should be a permanent core group in the institute who will be expertising themselves for such a disaster to offer all kinds of support in a regular manner.
Hon. Prime Minister, by this time, we have already identified which are the cyclone-prone areas, drought-prone areas and flood-prone areas of this country. We can foresee the future of the 21st Century as to how we can cope up with this problem year after year with a more technical expertise and having regard to the fact that if this happens in Orissa today it might happen tomorrow in Andhra Pradesh. We will again start the same debate here.
I feel that at the cost of the life of the people of Orissa, whom I treat not as victims but as martyrs, we should think of the future. They are poor people. They died because we lacked the opportunities in scientific and economic fields for providing them help at the hour of a crisis. We all are responsible for that. But the magnitude is such that no Government on the earth can cope up with the problem instantly, whatever we may say politically and otherwise.
Therefore, Sir, I appeal to the hon. Prime Minister to please have the views from the experts, to please have an understanding of the situation with much more sincerity and to please take up this matter seriously, not as a matter of challenge of N.D.A. versus Orissa Congress or a challenge of Orissa Congress for the B.J.P. Government or as a limited issue of Orissa but to take this as an issue of the nation and to stand by the people of Orissa as a whole. The Parliament will respond to it free from all political barriers to stand by the issue.
Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER : If the House agrees we can extend the time of the House by one hour to complete this subject.