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The responsibility for execution of relief and rehabilitation operations in the wake of natural calamities rests with the State Governments. The Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments by providing additional resources in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commissions appointed after every five years. The 10th Finance Commission which gave its recommendations for the period 1995-2000. inter-alia recommended the setting up of a Committee of Experts and representatives of the State Governments to draw up a list of items. The expenditure on which alone would be chargeable to the CRF as also the norms of assistance from National Fund for Calamity Relief (NFCR). An Expert Committee was accordingly constituted by the Ministry of Agriculture in April, 1995 which identified the items of assistance from the CRF and items and norms of assistance in case of NFCR. These were communicated to State Governments. On the Basis of feed back from some of the State Governments, the norms of assistance permissible from the NFCR were finalized and communicated to the State Governments who were given flexibility of applying these norms with some variations for CRF

Also. Subsequently, these norms were considered to be unrealistic by some State Governments and also by Central teams visiting the States for assessing damage and requirement of relief and rehabilitation in the wake of natural calamities. Accordingly, the Ministry of Agriculture constituted a Committee of Experts on 31.10.1997 to review the existing norms  of assistance from the CRF and the NFCR in the wake of natural calamities and related matters, under the Chairmanship of CRC and Additional Secretary, DAS with members from Planning Commission, Ministry  of Finance, some other Central Ministries and State Governments of Karnataka, Punjab, M.P. Gujarat and Sikkim.

           The Committee held several meetings to finalize the items and norms of assistance under the CRF and NFCR and has given its recommendations with an eye on improving the relief package to the states. Especially the victims. The Committee acknowledges with thanks the active and valuable cooperation of the members, particularly Shri Anil Sinha, Joint Secretary (NDM) and Member Secretary Shri S.K.Swami, Director(NDM)and SHRI Devinder Nath Under Secretary (NDM) Department of Agriculture & Cooperation in finalizing the report. It is hoped that the recommendations of the Committee will be useful in providing the desired assistance to the States to undertake the relief and rehabilitation work effectively.

Sd\-(Bhagat Singh)

Additional Secretary and

Central Relief Commissioner,

Government of India.



The responsibility for execution of relief and rehabilitation operation in the wake of natural calamities rests with the State Government. The Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments by providing additional resources in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commissions appointed after every 5 years. The policy pertaining to financing of relief expenditure underwent changes after a period of fair trial. The policy pertaining to financing  of  relief expenditure underwent changes after a period of fair trial. The earlier system of margin money was replaced with the concept of Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) through the recommendations of Ninth Finance Commission(1990-91 to 1994-95). The CRF was constituted for each State with allocated amount contributed by the Central & State Governments in the ratio of 3.1. The State level Committee headed by the Chief Secretary was empowered to decide on all matters including norms of assistance. The Tenth Finance Commission(TFC),while continuing the scheme of CRF, recommended creation of a National Fund for Calamity Relief(NFCR) to extend additional financial assistance to the  State Governments in the event of a calamity of rare severity. The fund is administered by a sub-committee of National Development Council headed by the Agriculture Minister and comprising Dy.Chairman, Planning Commission, two Union Ministers and five Chief Ministers nominated by the Prime  Minister, on a year to year basis, as members.

2.        The TFC also recommended setting up of a Committee of experts to draw up a list of items that could be incorporated in the CRF and to work out admissible items of expenditure, norms etc. for NFCR. The State Level Committee was required to prescribe norms for the amount that could be spent under each of the approved items which could be modified by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, if considered necessary. Subject to this, the State Level Committee is competent to decide on all matters connected with financing relief expenditure,

3.        Ministry of Agriculture, in april,1995,appointed a Committee of Experts which recommended items and norms of assistance. Based on the report of the Expert Committee and the information received from a few States on norms of assistance, the Department  issued guidelines to the State Governments for adoption of norms for various items in order to avoid wide divergence in the scale of assistance from State to State. As per these guidelines, the State Governments were requested to adhere to Central norms with variations upto 50% in case of some items keeping in view the local conditions and other exigencies. The States of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tripura represented that the norms prescribed by Expert Committee were on the lower side when compared to State norms. Some of the States pointed out that they could not reduce the scale of assistance.

4.        The TFC did not lay down any crierion for categorising a calamity as one of rare severity to qualify for the assistance from NFCR. As per the TFC any definition of calamity of rare severity bristles with insurmountable difficulties and is likely to be counter-productive. The Commission was of the view that a calamity of rare severity would necessarily have to be adjudged on a case to case basis, taking into account inter-alia the intensity and magnitude of the calamity, level of relief assistance needed, the capacity of the State to handily the problem, funds available out of the balance of CRF .

5.1      A number of State Governments requested the Government of India to recast the norms of assistance as according to them ,these were far from realistic. The Central Teams which visited the affected areas to assess the situation also expressed their concern about the unrealistic nature of some of the norms. The Committee of Secretaries (COS), in a meeting, recommended, inter alia, adoption of scientific methods of assessing damage as well as determining the requirement of relief and rehabilitation. Space Technology with combined use of satellite communication and satellite remote sensing provides valuable, accurate and timely information on natural disaster, as described below:-

  • Remote sensing technique using satellite imageries provides significant information on the extent of damage due to natural calamities very rapidly. There are several State Government and Central  Government Organisations like National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) at Hyerab which monitor natural calamities like flood, drought and cyclone nation wise at State/District level and make  impact/damage assessment using satellite remote sensing technique. The Comm. recommends that such satellite remote sensing based maps/bulletins/reports should be increasingly utilized to determine the extent of damage in various sections of economy like Agriculture (Crops),infrastructure (Rail/Road),Plantations etc.
  • The type of construction i.e. Kachha house. Pucca house or hut would need to be kept in view while calculating the number of damaged houses and huts. State Government should make house to house survey of the damaged houses.

The Inter-State Council has recommended that the norms of assistance in the wake of natural calamities should be reviewed in  consultation with the State Governments.

5.2      Keeping in view the above position as well as the experience of working of the operation of CRF and NFCR during 1995-96 to 1997-98. Ministry of Agriculture decided to constitute a Committee to review the items of norms of assistance from CRF and NFCR with the following terms of reference:-

  • To review the existing list of items and norms of assistance prescribed by the Ministry of Agriculture as debitable to the CRF;
  • To review existing norms of assistance from the NFCR;
  • To suggest scientific methods for assessment of damage and requirement of relief and rehabilitation;
  • To suggest scientific methods for assessment of damage and requirement of relief and rehabilitation;
  • To suggest guidelines for the memoranda to be submitted to the 11th Finance Commission for increasing the corpus of the Fund keeping in view the experience of last two years.

A copy of the constitution of the Committee is at appendix.

Deliberations of the Committee

6.        The Committee held detailed deliberations in various meetings. In addition it reviewed extensively the relevant records available in the Ministry as well as those received from various concerned Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments. It also took note of the norms adopted for similar items by other Ministries.

7.        The Committee is of the view that the objective of the relief assistance was to assist the victims to rehabilitate themselves and enable them to resume their normal economic activity. It was not possible for any Government, even in the developed countries, to compensate losses occurring due to natural calamities from the relief  funds. The Committee is also of the view that relief assistance is primarily meant for providing relief of immediate nature to the victims of natural calamities. In other words, it is meant to kick-start their livelihood. The long-term rehabilitation or improvements should be undertaken from the on-going plan schemes. Further, it is felt that the spirit of relief assistance is to focus on victims, specifically the farmers the landless labourers, persons living below poverty line as well as those belonging to vulnerable sections of the society. Stress  of relief operations should also be on prevention of out-break of epidemics and resultant diseases during post-disaster period. The Committee also feels that the expenditure on repair & reconstruction of infrastructures belonging to Govt./Organisations/PSUs should be incurred from their annual budgets and not from relief funds except to the minimum extent needed to provide relief to the affected areas and the people.  This thinking of the Committee is in consonance with the genesis of NFCR as per para 9.17 of the recommendations of the 10th Finance Commission which provides that a calamity of rare severity would necessarily have to be adjudged on a case-to-case basis taking into account inter-alia the intensity and magnitude of the calamity, level of relief assistance needed the capacity of a State to tackle the problem, the alternatives and the flexibility available within the plans to provide succour and relief.



8.        The recommendations of the Committee on various terms of reference are as under:-

8.1      Review of the existing list of items and norms of assistance prescribed by the Ministry of Agriculture as debitable to CRF/NFCR

  • Gratuitous relief

(a) The Committee recommends to retain all the 4 existing items of assistance under this head. The Committee is of the view that assistance should also be extended to the persons who sustain grievous injuries requiring hospitalisation for more than a week

  • Agriculture input subsidy

(b)           The Committee recommends that assistance for agriculture input subsidy should be extended only where crop losses are to the extent of 50% or more. The assessment of crop losses should be based on States prevalent system of assessment of damage such as annawari etc. The Committee agrees to the existing condition that this assistance should be limited to small and marginal farmers only as they have limited resources. While medium and big farmers have greater capacity and resources to bear the losses in the wake of natural calamities.

  • Animal Husbandry

(c)       The Committee observes that there is a separate item at SI.No.13,”additional nutrients to animal feeding to prevent malnutrition” whereas under the head ‘animal husbandry,’ there already exists a provision for fodder, veterinary care and fodder concentrate. It is of the view that these items are similar and overlapping. Hence we recommended that item no.13 should  be deleted and item no.5(b) should be read as “provision of fodder/fodder concentrate and veterinary care.” The Committee also recommends that item of “procurement, storage and movement of fodder” which indicated as a separate item at SI.No.10 in the existing item of assistance should be shown under the item animal husbandry as (c).

  • House

(d)       The Committee has taken note of the fact that the cost of damage to houses varies and  it is directly related to the nature and extent of damage. The extent of damage, in turn. depends on the type of construction other circumstances being equal. Categorisation of house type in terms of only pukka, catcher and semi-pukka houses does not appear to be very rational. It is, therefore, recommended that the existing categories of fully damaged and partially damaged houses should be recategorised as (a) fully destroyed/damaged-which has to be re-built (b) where either roof or walls require replacement or restoration: and (c) houses which do not suffer any structural damages and can be restored with simple and minor repairs. Thus the following three categories are recommended:-

Fully destroyed

Severely damaged

Marginally damaged

                  We recommended that no relief is required to be given for marginally damaged houses as these can be repaired with a little expenditure or their repairs can wait for quite sometime.

The definition of Catcher Pukka and Semi-Pukka houses given  as under should be adopted for assessment of damage to houses:

Katch House              A Katcha structure is one the walls and roof of which are made of mud, bamboo, grass, leaves, reeds, thatch or unburnt bricks.

Pucca House              A Pukka structure is one the walls and roof of which are made of burnt bricks, stone, cement, concrete, jack board(cement-plastered reeds), mosaic, tiles or timber. Tiles, galvanised tin or asbestos cement sheets used in construction of roofs will be regarded as pukka material.

Semi-Pukka House     A semi-Pukka structure is one of which either the roof or the walls, but not both, is made like that of a pukka structure.

We recommended that for purpose of relief a semi-pukka house should be treated as pukka house. It would make enumeration simple and eliminate discretion of the survey party.

(e)       The Committee is of the view that the relief funds should not be used for repair/reconstruction of damaged infrastructure belonging to Govt. PSUs and other large organisation. Since the natural calamities are a recurrent phenomenon such organisations should keep necessary provision in their annual budgets for repair/reconstruction activities in the wake of natural calamities based on the past experience and the vulnerability. As the kitty of relief assistance is limited, it should be confined to only those items which were directly and closely related to the victims so as to provide them relief and succour . In view of this, the Committee recommends that assistance for restoration of damaged infrastructure should be restricted only to immediate drinking water supply in rural areas community owned social structures and primary, middle and high/secondary schools in villages and small town. In case of other categories of infrastructure the concerned Departments of the States and or the Govt. of India should make adequate provision for these in their on-going programmes/plan schemes/projects etc.

8.1.5    Public education

(f)       The importance of public education and community participation for effective disaster preparedness and mitigation in order to reduce the adverse impact of natural disasters can hardly be over-emphasised. The Committee recommends that in addition to the existing item of post-disaster public education (item-24), immediate pre-disaster public education and awareness activities be also included. Further, public education, particularly, an awareness activity among the farmers about facility of insurance available to them is of very high importance. The farmers should be educated about not only the availability of the insurance for their crops but also about the procedural details of filling of forms for claiming insurance. But assistance for this item would come only from CRF and will not include payment of insurance preemie from the CRF/NFCR. No assistance for these activities should be provided from NFCR.

(g)       The Committee also recommends that the existing item of “improvement to the flood Control amenities as a preparatory measure” should be deleted as it is not specific in nature and will encourage expenditure on new works or large-scale improvements in the existing infrastructures.  Thus leaving inadequate funds for immediate relief in the wake of calamities. However immediate breaches of embankments can be taken up for immediate repairs.

8.16     Preparation of Plan and Manuals for Disaster Preparedness/Action Plans

(h)       The issue of preparations of disaster preparedness and mitigation plans for difference disasters and different areas is being emphasised in various for a. Such plans will surely assist in formulation of disaster reduction programmes/policies resulting in minimising the adverse effect of natural disasters. This issue has gained importance and urgency in the context of recent earthquake disaster of Chamois (U.P.) in March, 1999 land-slides in hilly districts of Uttar Pradesh in September 1998 and cyclone of Gujarat, 1998. State Governments had been advised from time to time to prepare such action plans. However, much work has not been done in this field predominantly for want of funds. There is hardly any ongoing scheme which can take care of expenditure on preparation of such plans. The Committee recommends inclusion of preparation/iodation of relief manuals and codes and disaster mitigation/preparedness action plans in the list of approved items

8.1.7    Draining off floodwater

(i)        During floods and heavy rains, water is accumulated in urban areas and certain low, lying rural areas, clearly categorised, which prevents the movement of inhabitants and sometime necessitates the shifting of the affected population to the safer areas. The shifting involves a large amount of funds. Thus, some State Governments have rightly requested for inclusion of the item “draining off accumulated flood water in the urban areas”. The Committee recommends for inclusion of this item in the list of approved items provided the expenditure to be so incurred is less than expenditure to be incurred on evacuation, camping etc. A higher expenditure can be considered in difficult areas taking into account the difficulties to be encountered there for draining off floodwaters.

8.1.8          List of existing and recommended items

(i)   The Committee recommends that all other existing items with some addition/deletions as explained in the proceeding paras should remain in the list. A list of recommended items is placed at Annexure-II.

  • Review of the existing norms of assistance from the National Fund for Calamity Relief
  • We have taken into consideration the existing scale of assistance for various items norms adopted for similar purpose in various on-going programmes cost escalation input cost for various crops etc., while considering the revision of norms for the approved items.
  • The Committee has taken note of the damage caused to cotton crop in some parts of the State of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab in 1977. the inputs for such crops are higher in cost and as such need different norms. The Committee has also considered the cost of production in the areas with assured irrigation vis-à-vis that in rained areas and feels that there should be separate norms for the two. We, therefore, recommend separate norms for irrigated and non-irrigated areas.
  • We recommended that no assistance should be extended for houses, which are built on areas specified as unsafe as defined through public/gazette notification by the concerned State/coccal Government for buildings, such as river beds and other unprotected frequently flooded areas. In other words, the houses, which are built in areas, identified as unsafe for human dwelling should not be considered for assistance.
  • We also recommended that no assistance except to the minimum extent necessary so as to be able to provide immediate relief to the victims should be provided for repair of damaged infrastructure belonging to State Government. Local bodies Central Government industrial & commercial establishments as the concerned Departments of the Government and enterprises should make necessary budget provision for maintenance of such items in their regular plan for this purpose. The industrial business establishments should go in for insurance and should not qualify for any relief.
  • List of Existing and Recommended items
  • The item-wise norms recommended by the Committee are at annexure-I
  • Scientific methods for assessment of damage and requirement of Relief and rehabilitation
  • We have in-depth deliberations on the view/suggestions received from various quarters on the crucial issue of scientific assessment of damage and requirement of relief and rehabilitation in case of gratuitous relief for loss of limb, and recommend that it should be extended only when the disability is more than 40% and certified by a Government doctor or doctors from the panel approved by the Government.
  • In case of agriculture input subsidy, if the area is covered under crop insurance scheme and a farmer has his crop insured, no financial assistance should be extended to him for the area under the crop for which crop insurance has been notified.
  • The committee also recommends that satellite imageries/remote sensing report should be increasingly utilised to determine the extent of damage in various sectors like:

Type of construction i.e. kachha/pucca hut;

State Government should made survey of houses seeking assistance from housing and Civil Engineering Department.

The survey team from the State should possibly have a technically trained person.

Necessary training for house damage assessment should be imparted to the survey team members before setting of monsoon/cyclone session.

  • In case of damage to infrastructure the Committee recommends that all Central and State Government Department should set apart adequate budgetary provision annually for repair/reconstruction of public infrastructure keeping in view the past experience.
  • The state Directorate of Health Services should ensure stocking of the essential medicines at various places as per requirements.
  • During its visit a Central team should make efforts to cover as much area as possible. It should cross check information furnished by the State Government with other available sources.
  • Measures to ensure that relief assistance reaches the affected people and to prevent diversion of funds from the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) - The Committee discussed in detail the issue of monitoring of relief expenditure which was based on suggestions received from various quarters in order to ensure that relief assistance actually reaches the needy persons. It was felt that State Government would have to take effective measures in this regard by way of strict periodical monitoring through meetings as well as field reports. Department of Agriculture and Cooperation should also monitor the administration of the CRF. The Committee ask recommends the following measures in this regard.
  • Procedure laid down by the Ministry of Finance in the scheme of financing relief expenditure of CRF should be adhered to by the State Governments.
  • Accountant General of the State should be requested to book only those items of expenditure incurred by the State Government, which are as per approved items and norms of assistance excepting wherein specific relaxation has been given by the State Level Committee.
  • As far as possible, relief should be given in kind, if it is not possible, then it should be given to the beneficiary, preferably through cheque.
  • During disbursement of relief assistance and relief works, the lists of beneficiaries alongwith amount of assistance given should be displayed at some conspicuous places. Copies can also be given to the press and the media. This information may include rate of assistance, category of beneficiaries and the designation of officer distributing the assistance, place of disbursement etc.  Regular briefing of the press and media should be ensured. Besides, the village headman, panchayat members and representatives of non-governmental organisations should be associated with disbursement of relief.
  • As far as possible, the assistance of NGOs should also be taken to get a feed back from the ground level with regard to disbursement of relief.
  • Proper record of disbursement of assistance should be maintained and checked from time to time.
  • When some specific complaints are received, State Government may consider to investigate them to find out the factual position. State Governments may also consider associating a representative of a leading NGO with such investigation.
  • Strict and time bound follow up action should be taken on the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
  • The payment in case of death should be made immediately. In case of agriculture input subsidy, the same should be distributed before the harvesting time so that farmers can purchase inputs for the next crop.
  • Ministry of Finance should consider issue of draft/cheque for extending financial assistance out of CRF/NFCR, in order to show that the fund is deposited in an account separately created for this purpose.
  • Disbursement of relief to the affected people should be as prompt as possible if any relief amount from NFCR is not disbursed within six months, it may be withdrawn.
  • The relief assistance given directly by the NGOs, voluntary organisations, private citizens/organisations etc. for housing, households etc, should be kept in view while disbursing relief.
  • Coordination amongst and with NGOs etc. should be ensures.
  • Expenses of the kind of TA & DA may be separately accounted for.
  • Guidelines for memoranda to be submitted to the 11th Finance Commission for enhancing the corpus of funds keeping in view the experience of last three years - The committee is of the view that the following items/issues may be included in the memoranda to be submitted to the 11th Finance Commission.
  • The types of calamities, which could be considered as natural calamities, should be clearly defined. In case fire incidents are included in the category of natural calamities, the type of fire incidents occurring due to wild fire/forest fire should be included in the category of natural calamities. The Committee is of the view that only calamities such as drought, floods, heavy rains, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, snow storms, hailstorms, lightening and pest attacks including rat menace resulting from sustained adverse weather conditions, should be included in the category of natural calamities. Heat/cold wave, epidemics etc. should not be categorised as natural calamities.
  • There is need to have a definition of a calamity of rare severity for extending financial assistance from NFCR. The committee is of the view that a single event of a natural calamity should be strictly considered for relief assistance instead of a combination of more than one natural calamity of different types occurring at different times. That is to say that normally there should not be any bunching of different calamities.
  • The committee observed that some of the States have pointed out that the quantum of CRF allocated to them is insufficient and should be increased. The committee has considered the procedure followed by the Ninth and Tenth Finance Commission i.e. basing the quantum of CRF on the average of ceiling of expenditure approved during the last ten years and is of the view that apart from the average ceilings of expenditure the ability of the State to cope with a natural calamity should also be given proper consideration while approving the quantum of CRF for a State.
  • All State Governments contribute to the National Fund for Calamity Relief in the spirit of national integration. The committee recommends that even when the corpus under NFCR allocated, if any, by the 11th Finance Commission is exhausted the State shall contribute to NFCR on the same principle, if the fund is augmented later on.
  • Generally, lifeline infrastructure, such as roads, telecommunications, power, hospitals, etc. are adversely affected in the wake of cyclones, floods, heavy rains and earthquakes. State Governments and concerned Ministries/Departments of Government of India should set apart adequate budget provisions for repair and immediate restoration works for such infrastructure. Public Sector Units should also keep necessary provisions for this purpose and should not be assisted from relief funds. In a natural calamity of the magnitude of Orissa Super Cyclone of October, 1999, funds can be provided by the Planning Commission to be adjusted against the plan funds allocated to States.
  • The Planning Commissioner may keep in view the transportation cost of relief operations in hilly terrains while recommending allocation under CRF to these State. Degree of vulnerability of State should also be one of the factors for deciding quantum of CRF.
  • Development plan should have inbuilt component on environmental and natural hazard proneness concept. Planning Commission should ensure that at least 5 to 10%  allocation is earmarked for disaster preparedness and mitigation in all related plan schemes.
  • The assistance from they NFCR should be extended only after following the set procedure. In no case adhoc releases from this fund should be allowed.

In order to have a proper assessment of the situation, the Central Tem should be deputed only after receipt of a detailed and final memorandum. State Governments should not request deputation of team hurriedly based on interim memoranda, which are reviewed subsequently sometimes more than once.


Hon'ble Revenue Minister


 Hon'ble Minister-In-Charge
 Sh. Bram Shanker Sharma (Jimpa)

Special Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management

Sh.  K A P Sinha, IAS

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