‘Special squad’ to check leaks in flood relief aid

‘Special squad’ to check leaks in flood relief aid

Revenue Minister R Ashoka. File photo

The state government will form a ‘special squad’ to check pilferage in the financial aid for families displaced by the recent floods, Revenue Minister R Ashoka announced Wednesday. 

“For the first time, we will have a special squad that will visit all districts and identify middlemen interfering with the aid that is meant for the flood victims. I’ve issued strict instructions that merciless punishment should be handed out to officials who are entertaining leakage of the government’s relief measures,” Ashoka told reporters. “I will personally monitor this by visiting the flood-hit areas.” 

Formation of the special squad was discussed in the meeting of a Cabinet sub-committee Ashoka heads to review the state’s preparedness for natural calamities. 

A total of 103 taluks across 22 districts have been hit by floods, displacing nearly 7 lakh people. The per-family ex-gratia has been hiked from Rs 3,800 to Rs 10,000 with the state government pitching in Rs 6,200 from its coffers. “This has reached 99% of the families,” Ashoka said.

“Earlier we paid cheques. Now, through RTGS, the money is being put into their bank accounts,” he said, adding that the government had, so far, released Rs 309 crore towards flood relief. 

The Cabinet sub-committee, which comprises RDPR Minister K S Eshwarappa, Health Minister B Sreeramulu, Housing Minister V Somanna, Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan and Women & Child Development Minister Shashikala Jolle, also discussed submitting a formal memorandum to the Centre seeking financial assistance to help rebuild the flood-hit areas. 

“We have estimated losses to the tune of Rs 32,353 crore. In about two days, we will send the final report to the Centre and we are going to explore all parameters in order to get the maximum funds for the state,” Ashoka said. A delegation of the state government will also request the Centre to provide funds beyond the stipulated norms, he added. 

Ashoka defended the Modi administration when asked about the Centre’s delay in the announcement of a relief package for flood-hit state.

“The inter-ministerial central team came to Karnataka first. Also, the Centre came to our rescue by deploying 19 NDRF teams, 17 Indian Army columns, four Navy teams, 5 Coast Guard teams and 4 M17 choppers of the Air Force. This is the highest deployment ever in the state’s history for rescue operations,” he said.