TN floods: RS members offer to spend MPLADS funds

TN floods: RS members offer to spend MPLADS funds

Expressing concern over the rain fury in Tamil Nadu, members in Rajya Sabha today offered to utilise MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation work in the state and some even announced contributions of varying amounts for the cause.

The House took up a discussion on the issue on urgent basis with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu saying the flood situation in Chennai is worrisome as IMD has prediced heavy rains in the next two days.

The situation is precarious as all connnectivity in the city has been disrupted due to overflowing of water, he said.

"I am very worried. I pray to the God to save all people," the minister said.
He asked members to give concrete suggestions, both short and long term, with "one voice" to save the people in flood-hit Chennai without indulging in criticism of each other at this crucial juncture.

He said the flood situation in Chennai was discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning. "The PM has talked to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (yesterday) and offered to give all support," he added.

Naidu said a high level meeting will be held in a short while to discuss the Chennai flood issue.

The Tamil Nadu government is doing its best and the Centre has sanctioned Rs 933 crore towards flood relief to the state, the minister said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, "We can allow MPLADs funds for relief work in Chennai."

He said National Disaster Relief Force is stuck in Chennai floods and hence helicopers should be sent to drop food packets to people.

Yechury's suggestion was supported by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.
"I also associate with CPI-M leader. It (using MPLADs funds) had come to my mind, but as always Yechury takes the lead. On behalf of my party, we will support funds from MPLADS," he said.

To this, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said: "All of us are willing to contribute from MPLADS to provide relief to flood-affected Chennai. The amount will be decided in consultation with Chairman."

Under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), the district authorities spend money on works recommended by member of both the Houses from time to time.

Initiating the discussion, DMK leader Kanimozhi sought more central support towards relief work in flood-affected Chennai saying the situation is expected to worsen as IMD has predicted heavy rains in the next two days.

The Tamil Nadu government has estimated flood damages at Rs 8,481 crore, but the centre has sanctioned only over Rs 830 crore. "It is necessary that Centre releases more funds to tide over the situation," she urged.

She asked the Centre to declare the current floods in Chennai as natural disaster and send another central team to assess the damages in the state. She also suggested that an all-party parliamentary delegation should visit the state.

Kanimozhi also asked the centre to take measures to supply medicines to tackle disease outbreak post-floods.

Praising the NDA government for remarkable support being given to Tamil Nadu at this juncture, the DMK leader said this was the time to show all political parties are united.

To Kanimozhi's suggestion about visit of parliamentary delegation to the state, Naidu said, "A central team has already gone there. A part of the team is stranded. Our visit will divert the attention there. I happy that Kanimozhi said this is not the time to talk about differences. I liked the tone she said."

E M Sudarsana Nachiappan (Cong) said the Centre should rush all support to Chennai considering the flood situation as a national project and should not be left to the state to handle it alone.

He also pointed out that there are many posts lying vacant in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which should have been the first to foresee the flood situation and taken appropriate action.

Basawaraj Patil (BJP) emphasised the need for reaching out to affected people in remote areas for supply of food and medicines. He also said that the situation should be monitored in a scientific way.

Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (SP) said adequate medical care should be given post floods and compensation to affected people should be adequate.

Tarun Vijay (BJP) announced Rs 50 lakh from his MPLAD fund while Ramdas Athavale (RPI-A) declared donation of his one month's salary of Rs one lakh besides contribution from MPLAD fund for the Tamil Nadu flood victims.

Kurien said members should contribute significant amount like Rs 50 lakh or Rs 1 crore from their MPLAD fund.

A number of members demanded that Centre should send another team to the flood-affected state for fresh assessment of the losses.

Derek O Brien (Trinamool Cong) stressed the need for augmenting National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and making it more efficient besides utilising the allocated funds.

Citing CAG report that NDMA is ill-equipped to handle potential natural disaster, he said barely about Rs 7 crore could be allotted out of Rs 200 crore funds earmarked for the NDRF in 2014-15. Demanding adequate relief and rescue measures for Tamil Nadu, he said at the same time, justice should be done with states like West Bengal and Odisha in fund-allotment as these states had taken pre-emptive measures.

KC Tyagi (JDU) stressed the need for better coordination for disaster management between impacted districts and state.

He said serious steps were needed to tackle such a situation as India ranks second globally as far as natural disasters are concerned and 76 per cent of the Indian coastline was prone to calamities.

A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) said 14 lakh hectares of land has been inundated due to unprecedented rains. He said state government was taking all possible measures to provide relief and rescue operations to people.

KN Balagopal (CPM) stressed the need for a separate discussion on climate change and global warming.

Bhupinder Singh (BJD) too demanded a separate discussion on disaster management and natural calamity. He appealed the government to ensure that life of every single individual is saved in Tamil Nadu.

CM Ramesh (TDP) said 2 lakh hectares of agriculture land was damaged in three districts of Andhra Pradesh in similar situation.

DP Tripathi (NCP) demanded a day be observed as Tamil Nadu day in view of unprecedented and unimaginable rains wreaking havoc there.

K Parasaran (nominated) said there is immediate need to make access to people.  D Raja (CPI) questioned what was preventing the Centre from sending another team as he asked the government to declare the rain fury in Tamil Nadu as a "calamity of severe nature".

This will enable MPs from Tamil Nadu as well as other states also to contribute for the relief and rehabilitation there, he said.

N Gokulakrishnan (AIADMK), who spoke about the flood in Puducherry, said the government should depute one more team to assess the damages. He wanted the government to announce Rs 100 crore interim relief prior to the assessment for it.

J D Seelam (Congress) called for a "very strong" intervention from the Centre in flood-hit Andhra Pradesh.

He rued that Centre does not pay the promised package in such circumstances citing the example of the promise made during Cyclone Hudhud. "Government is not fufilling what it is saying," he said.
Seelam called for not bringing politics when addressing such calamities.

B K Hariprasad (Congress) said that parties which rule the flood-affected states should ask local leaders to adopt the affected districts like the Congress had done in past.

Ambeth Rajan (BSP) said what has happened in Tamil Nadu this time is "more than Tsunami". Tiruchi Siva (DMK) thanked the Centre for taking "suo motu action" on the flood in Chennai and suggested arranging of food packets for the victims.

Renuka Chowdhury (Congress) said the House should pass a resolution saying that it sympathises with them and is willing to reach out to them.

She also demanded MNREGA workdays should be increased by 100 more days as a special case in flood affected regions as the rain fury will have long-term impact devastating agriculture. Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) wondered why such a heavy rainfall could not be predicted.

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