DISCUSSION UNDER RULE 193
Flood Situation caused by recent cyclonic storm In the Bay of Bengal SHRI K.V. THANGKA BALU (Dharmapuri): Sir, I stand to raise a discussion on the statement made in the minister of agriculture in the House on 29 November, 1991 regarding flood situation caused by the re- cent cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal and relief measures undertaken by the Government.
Every year, we are accustomed to get floods and its recurrence is a continuous feature now. The whole nation is aware of the severity of the North-West monsoon which hit the Southern States between 12 to 15 November. It was one of the severest one in the history that had occurred and damaged heavily, particularly the parts of Tamil Nadu, certain parts of Pondicherry and other parts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka also.
We have seen the aftermath of the severest cyclonic affects by our own eyes and that experience I am not in a position to explain because that kind of severity I have never seen in my life in the past.
The depression in the Bay of Bengal which formed on 12 November and subsequently moved in the West and North Westerly direction crossed the coast of Tamil Nadu between Nagapattinam and Cuddalore and finally hit the whole district of Qaide-Millet and Thanjavur and subsequently the Karaikal the Pondicherry region.
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Against the normal rainfall of 864 mm, the actual receipt of rain during the period of cyclone was about 2,814 mm. The heavy rains lashed Nagapattinam Quaid-e-millet district Chingleputtu-MGR district, Madras, Dharmapuri, Madurai, Dindigulaana district, Pudukkotai, Nilgiri, Periyar, Salem and Tiruvannamalai-Sambuvarayar district of Tamil Nadu.
This is one side of the fact. The other side is that Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and some parts of Kerala and Pondicherry are also affected heavily. Several lives have been lost, villages have been marooned, cattles have perished. Lakhs of people have been displaced, several tanks have breached and agricultural crops on more than three lakh hectares of land have been submerged. National and State Highways and roads linking panchayats and villages were damaged heavily. When the team comprising of the Union Minister for Agricul- ture, Dr. Balram Jakhar and the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Rangarajan Kumaramangalam visited the State, even at that time they were able to see the severity of the situation.
Government of India's teams have visited Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Pondicherry and other parts of the country also.
I do agree that the Central Government, particularly the Prime Minister's office, was in touch with the State Governments, Par- ticularly with the people of our party, to alleviate the problems which are going to be caused to the people due to this cyclone and its aftermath.
In spite of effective steps taken by the Central Government and the State Governments, these happenings could not be stopped because men or material have no control over natural calamities.
We have witnessed that in Tamil Nadu alone, more than 3,920 villages have been severally affected, 3,65,115 families have 682 Rule 193
been rendered homeless and 185 lives were lost. Out of 275 lakhs of people in the coastal belt, we were able to evacuate only 175 lakhs of people. Because of so much precautions that we had taken, we were able to save the precious lives of hundreds of thousands of people, otherwise the loss of life world have run into lakhs and lakhs.
[MR, DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair]
As I mentioned, among the four southern States, the most hit are Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. I have said earlier that the human life lost in Tamil Nadu alone is 185, cattles lost are 315, people evacuated are 1,75,000 and the huts damaged in Tamil Nadu alone are 230 lakhs. Cauvery, which was in spate, entered the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu and had about 20 to 25 breaches. In total we have lost more than 1,112 breaches which got damaged due to this cyclone and heavy rain. In Tamil Nadu alone 7,048 kilometers of road were fully damaged. About the water logging in the agrarian sector I may say that nearly 1,40,550 hectares of land was water logged and submerged and totally washed away. This was the pathetic condition of the cyclone and heavy rain.
In Pondicherry, about 40,000 huts were damaged. 20,000 acres of land was washed away. This is in a part of Pondicherry particularly in the Karaikkal region and some parts. of Pondicherry in the coastal belt.
Sir, I come to Tamil Nadu again. The people affected in the floods and heavy rains were the poorest among the poor, agricultural labourers and those who are working on daily wage basis and earning their daily broad. Such kind of common and poorest people were affected. As we know, even after the great efforts by our Party, and our Governments,we are not able to settle them property in a proper manner. That is why they are still living in the low-lying areas 683 Disc. Under
[Sh. K.V. Thangka Balu]
without a proper house and without a proper mechanism for earning their livelihood.
I must also mention here about the efforts made by the State and the Central .Government in the regard. The Prime Minister's office has been giving clear directions. The radio and television have done a good job in advising the people to evacuate and also to keep off from this disaster, and thereby our State Government took effective steps after the calamity took place. Hon. Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu sent her ministers to the affected places and also made available, to the district authorities and the Central Government authorities, the defence boats. All the officers were at the affected areas and were able to do what best they could and which was at their command to provide relief to the people.
I would like to bring one more thing to the notice of the august House and the Government. In Tamil Nadu alone about 13,831 kilometers of National Highway and state Highway were damaged. This is one pathetic part. Subsequently in the villages almost in all the districts which I mentioned earlier, even today we are not able to go or drive or even reach the people quickly. That is the severity of the damage which was caused due to the severe floods. Particularly in the villages I may mention that about 6,356 kilometers of panchayat roads and another 9,552.27 kilometers of the interior roads have been considerably damaged. And particularly in all the districts the cul- verts, causeways and retaining walls have been severely damaged in several places. Similarly, there were 5,427 school buildings, noon- meal centres and the panchayat off ice building which were also damaged.
Sir, about 1370 percolation ponds, minor irrigation tanks and several channels were also damaged due to these heavy floods.
Thanjavur and Quaid-e-milleth districts are the granaries of the whole state of Tamil
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Nadu. Those two districts give food to the people of Tamil Nadu.
Both the districts were totally damaged and the main rivers Araniyar , Kusathalayar, Palar, Penner, Vellar and Coleroon were full of water due to heavy rains and floods and they were in spate. In and around the whole area there was water. The three districts of Quaid-e- milleth, Thanjavur and south Arcot were submerged totally thereby we were to lose about 2 lakhs or more hectares of paddy crop out of which more than 20,000 hectares of paddy was ready for harvest. Even that was lost. The standing crop in three lakh hectares was washed away.
At this juncture the pitiable part is the Central Government's direction to the State of Tamil Nadu when we were about to get pretty good harvest in this year due to good monsoon. But due to the sudden calamity we lost it and the Central Government has given another shock. The other day I raised this very important issue. When we are not in a position to feed ourselves, the Central allocation of rice to the State of Tamil Nadu was reduced suddenly from 81,000 to 65000 tonnes.
I earnestly appeal that when we are in difficulty, the Centre should have come forward and increased the rice quota to Tamil Nadu.
But on the contrary, they have sent a communication to the State of Tamil Nadu stating that they are going to reduce it from the month of December. I do not know what happened now. I urge upon the Gov- ernment to consider this request of the State and particularly from us. This request should be considered in a sympathetic manner so that the people of Tamil Nadu would not be in difficulties.
Sir, our union Minister for Agriculture, Dr. BalRam Jakhar, and hon. Minister Shri Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, along with the Chief Minister of Pondicherry and the State Government Minister Shri Thirun- avukarasu deputed by the hon. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and other people visited the area. Here I would like to inform you that our hon. Prime Minister as the Congress
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President sent a team of Congress officials under the leadership of Shri Janardhana Poojary, Myself, Shri Narayanaswamy, Member of parliament and also Shri Mallanna to visit the area and find out the reality and also find out what can be done and report back to him.
Sir, we have travelled throughout the length and breach of the area by foot, by car and whatever means available. We have done out best and we could meet the people and see the pathetic scenario thereby we could see the plight of those people in those places. The plight cannot be exaggerated, but it can be explained in a better manner. We also come from the villages where agriculture is the main occupation.
We see the pathetic conditions there. One could not imagine how they are in shambles. They are still in miserable condition in spite of the tremendous support given by the Government and the relief activities that are taking place there. We have visited those places.
I am told the Central Government have given a direction to the State, after the IX Finance Commission report, about Central relief that is to be earmarked every year through which they are allocating funds. That is one of the good measures which has been taken. We should congratulate the IX Finance Commission-because hereafter as and when the calamity takes place,, there is no need for the State Government of the concerned affected parties to request for relief.
But on the contrary, the funds are already earmarked and State-wise allocations have been done. Accordingly, Tamil Nadu has Rs. 39 crores of allocation. Four installments have been given to the State. The State empowered to spend the money. The Chief Secretary of the State can take advantage of the fund and rush it to the affected people for relief immediately. It is a good suggestion. At the same time, the funds allotted are on average basis. This year, Tamil Nadu has been affected. Last year, Andhra was affected. Next year,Orissa, may be affected. We do not know when the cyclone will hit where. while allotting funds,
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the extent of damage should also be taken into consideration because the Central Government has got the machinery and mechanism to make the data available in all possible ways and to quantify the damages. I feel, the allocation made to Tamil Nadu is not up to the level of expectation of the rain god or cyclone damage because the cyclone was very severe. According to our estimate, about Rs. 390 crores have to be provided to the State. Otherwise, nothing can be done in Tamil Nadu. This is the position. The bridges across the rivers have been damaged. The roads are affected. The people are suffering. Those things need to be given priority so that the people are rehabilitated and relocated. This is the minimum amount we require for the State of Tamil Nadu I will come to the other States later.
Here, I would like to say one more thing. According to the cyclone damage graph, from 1985 to 1990, the loss due to flood havoc in this country is about Rs.18922 crores, in the span of six years only. But the amount which the Government of India has sanctioned till 1991, after the IX Finance Commission, to the States is about Rs.603 crores. One good thing which the IX Finance Commission has one for which I should congratulate it is the amount which is given by the Centre is not as loan. But this is going as share of the Central Government. The States have to bear 25 per cent of the balance money for the calamity relief fund and according to the ratio, they have to spend for the, calamity relief.
Compared to the extent damage, the Centre has sanctioned for the last-six years, only one-sixth of the amount. It has so far released only one-sixth of the amount.
The damage takes place in a large quantity and that much quantum may not be able to help but, at the same time, I must urge upon the Government that this should not be taken lightly. The damages caused by the recent floods in Tamil Nadu should be fully compensated by the Centre alone. We know
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[Sh. K.V. Thangka Balu]
the resource crunch and the State is also facing the same kind of problem and we are not in a position to recover from the shocks as such shocks can be recovered with the help of the Central Government only.
There are a few suggestions that I would like to make before I conclude.
The poorest of the poor people live in the low-lying areas.
There houses were totally damaged. According to the direction of the Central Government, I can the State Government is giving Rs.500/- to reconstruct the huts. It is unimaginable. It is intolerable. The people are already in trouble and their position is not improving. In today's prices, one cannot build a house with Rs.500/ -. This is common knowledge. (interruptions) Previously Rs. 400/-. was given.
Now, the Government of Tamil Nadu revised it to Rs. 500/-. But even then it is impossible to repair fully the damaged house with Rs. 400/- or Rs. 500/-. We cannot even buy Ten bamboo with Rs. 500/-. This is the condition today. (Interruptions)
We have to reconsider the position. These poor people must be at least Rs. 3,000/- to Rs. 5,000/- to rebuild the huts. That is the bare minimum the Government must give. Immediate director should be given to the State Government in this regard so that the poor people may be relocated in the areas. In the same way, the half-damaged houses i.e., one wall collapse are full of water and mud and there is nothing else there here is only some dust standing. In that house, it is humanly impossible for common people and poor people to live in that oondition. We should come forward and safeguard their interests.
You should give guidelines that the half-damaged house should be given at least Rs. 3,000/- minimum so that they can repair and live in that house.
Alternately, the Government must consider to treat on priority basis those affected
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families and those affected houses. Those people should be given loans on priority basis from the IRDP and JRY Schemes and they should be given other facilities so that the rehabilitation work can be speeded up there.
[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Secondly, a very important factor is,the agricultural operations were totally off today. There are no more operations because 3 lakh hectares of land was totally washed away and the water-logging is still there. Even today we got reports that more than one lakh acres of land is totally sand-covered area. This is not an ordinary job for common agriculturists, poor people. They remain helpless. With that agricultural operation, they are earning their bread and are living.
The funny part of it is, we have contacted the bank officials, and the crop insurance people. We have demanded them to tell us what kind of remedial measures they are going to take for the affected people.
They told us that crop insurance is only meant for farmers who take loans. Those who are getting loans for fertilizers and seeds will get only Rs. 500/- or Rs.1,000 /- or Rs. 3,000/-. Maximum, if they have two acres of land. Only that amount, what is given to them by way of seeds and by way of fertilizer, is covered by way of crop insurance.This is the pathetic conditions I would say. I come from a poor common farmer's. family.
I know the reality; They say that the farmers will get a compensation amount of equal to Loan that 100 only when the crop is going to give yields. It may be after one or two months and the area covered may be one acre or two acres. Further,that Rs.10,000 crop value is not covered under the Crop Insurance Scheme. The Crop Insurance Policy is meant for the Government Loan only. They want to satisfy the banks. They want to safeguard the interests of the banks only and not the poor farmers. This is the
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pathetic condition which is prevailing. The Government must bring forward some legislation to alleviate the problem of poor people. I would say that the Crop Insurance Scheme has become a mockery. Of course, the Crop Insurance Scheme is there. We discuss this with the officers at the ground level. They say: "We are sorry. You have to look for the Government. The Government must give directions and we cannot do anything. We will only ensure the loan is recovered.
MR. SPEAKER: Shri K.V. Thangkabalu, this is a subject pertaining to cyclonic stone in the Bay of Bengal and the relief measures undertaken by the Government, not about the entire agriculture. I have a list of about 10 people. You have to stick to the subject.
SHRI K.V. THANGKA BALU: I have not yet started the subject.
MR. SPEAKER: You start with the subject.
SHRI K.V. THANGKA BALU: I am only talking about the subject. I am talking about the affected areas.
MR. SPEAKER: You are talking about the entire agricultural policy.
SHRI K.V. THANGKA BALU: No. I am not talking about the
agricultural policy. I am only talking about the affected people. I have seen personally the affected areas. I have visited the affected areas.
MR. SPEAKER: Please come to the point.
SHRI K.V. THANGKA BALU: I have visited the cyclone-affected areas. They say that the Crop Insurance amount will be given only after the yield has come. After that only, they will quantify the yield. That will take one or two months. But till that time the insurance policy will not help the affected people in the affected areas. This is the pathetic condition. Moreover, they say that they will cover