Army gets Rs 500 cr for relief work in J&K flood

Centre pays money to Defence Ministry

The Centre has paid the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Rs 500 crore for the assistance provided by the armed forces when Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) was reeling under devastating floods in September last year.

The amount was adjusted from the Rs 1,602.46 crore assistance given to the state from its share in the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

According to a Ministry of Home Affairs letter dated February 6, 2015, addressed to J&K chief secretary, the high-level committee in its meeting on January 30, 2015, approved Rs 1,602.56 crore from NDRF, subject to the adjustment of 90 per cent of balance available in SDRF accounts of the state.

“This (Rs 1,602.56 crore) includes payment of bills for airdropping essential supplies and rescue (tentative Rs 500 crore), as per actual, based on bills raised by the MoD,” the letter stated.

In October, after a local English daily reported the issue, the Center had dismissed reports saying that the MoD had not raised any bill against the J&K government for rescue and relief operations carried out during the 2014 floods.

While the MoD has reportedly said it is routine after any such relief operation to raise costs, the decision has raised a storm in Kashmir where people accuse the Army of charging the victims for humanitarian help. “A country which gives $ 1 billion aid to Nepal charges Rs 500 crore from its own people for rescue in floods,” wrote one Shuj ul Haq on his Facebook page.

Opposition slams decision

While questioning the MoD’s decision, the Opposition National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said: “The Army led the helping hand to Nepali government after quake hit that country in April. Will New Delhi now ask them to pay for this?”

The Army and Air Force had won the hearts of many for their untiring efforts to save and rescue those who were left stranded by the devastating floods in which nearly 300 people were killed and 1.5 million stranded for days together.

When the whole state machinery had collapsed, the Army had the expertise to swing into action.

The Army had deployed around 20,000 soldiers for “Operation Megh Rahat” to rescue stranded people, with 215 columns, 65 medical teams and 15 engineer task forces spread out in the Kashmir Valley.

The Army, however, had sought reimbursement from the state government for its services after earthquake hit parts of the Valley killing nearly 1,400 people on October 8, 2005.

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