CPI(M) criticizes relief operations

Brahmapur, Oct 20:

Both Congress and CPI-M on Sunday criticised the relief operation being carried out by Odisha government in the areas hit by cyclone Phailin while the Left party demanded that the Centre declare the devastation as a national calamity.

The Centre should provide 90 per cent financial assistance to Odisha government for rehabilitation and restoration works, leader of CPI-M in Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya said here.

It should also waive the agriculture loan given to farmers, tuition fee of students and provide special assistance along the lines of the help given in Vidharba in Maharashtra.

Acharya, chairman of Parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture, said the Left party leaders would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon to give an account of the intensity of the damage in Odisha.

Acharya, who along with senior party leaders visited the cyclone-ravaged areas, said 50 kg rice, Rs 500 and four litres of kerosene given to the victims was insufficient. They should also be provided with edible oil, potato and other cooking materials.

The Centre should depute a team to assess the damage immediately and the visit of Union Home Secretary Anil Goswamy, who toured some of the areas affected by the cyclone, should not be treated as the central team.

“The central team must consist of officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Home Affairs,” he said.

However, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers Srikant Jena said the Central assistance would depend on the report to be submitted by the state government.

“Even a week after the disaster, several victims are yet to get relief which are shared by the Centre and state at 75 and 25 per cents,” said Jena.

Jena said transparency should be maintained in relief distribution by forming an all-party committee at the panchayat-level and names of beneficiaries in the village level displayed.

Agriculture implements should be provided the farmers to undertake cultivation of Rabi crops, said the union minister.

Other Congress leaders too demanded waiving of the agriculture loan and provision of free electricity to the farmers for agriculture purpose.

The union minister along with Odisha PCC president Jayadev Jena, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Bhupinder Singh and former union minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu visited several affected areas during the day.

Senior BJP leader Ram Chandra Panda sought a special financial package for the affected farmers.

The union home secretary today visited some areas hit by cyclone and the district administration submitted a memorandum to him seeking Rs 3400 crore assistance.

Senior citizens of Brahmapur also submitted a memorandum to Goswamy urging him to treat the calamity as national disaster. (PTI)

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