Declare a calamity severe in three days, says panel

August 14th, 2012 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) A devastating natural disaster should be declared “severe” within three days, a parliamentary panel has said.

The Committee on MPs Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) also wants the annual ceiling for Lok Sabha members hiked so they can devote more money to rehabilitation work outside their constituencies.

In its report, Procedures on Provision of MPLADS Funds for Natural Calamities, the panel has called for amendments in the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

It said the home ministry judges the severe nature of a natural disaster on a case-to-case basis taking into account various factors.

“The committee is of firm view that there should be a definite time frame to declare a natural calamity as a severe one,” the panel said in its report presented to the Lok Sabha last week.

It said the home ministry should assess the enormity of a calamity, capacity of the state government to respond and resources needed “on a war footing” and declare it severe without waiting for other agencies.

This, it said, should be done within three days.

The committee noted with concern that the ministry of statistics and programme implementation calls for contributions after natural calamities days after their occurrence.

Following the 2008 floods in Kosi in Bihar, an appeal was issued after 24 days. It took 21 days for an appeal to go out after the cloud burst in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010.

In the case of the 2011 Sikkim earthquake, an appeal was issued after 19 days.

“Since the appeal is made after considerable delay, (help reaches) the affected people very late,” it said.

Noting that annual allocation of MPLADS has been hiked to Rs.5 crore from Rs.2 crore, the panel said MPs should be allowed to recommend Rs.50 lakh for rehabilitation work outside their constituency and Rs.1 crore in case of “calamity of severe nature” anywhere in the country.

The existing annual ceilings set a limit of Rs.10 lakh for permissible work outside the constituency but within the state, and Rs.50 lakh in the event of a severe calamity in any part of India.

The committee lamented that the home ministry deals with matters pertaining to utilisation of MPLADS for natural calamities in “a routine and casual manner”.

“No urgency is shown for timely execution of rehabilitation works,” it said.

The committee on MPLADS was set up by the Lok Sabha speaker in 1999.

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