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.
Additional Secretary and
Central Relief Commissioner,
Government of India.
REPORT THE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE ITEMS AND NIORM OF ASSISTANCE FROM CALAMITY RELIEF FUND AND NATIONAL FUND FOR CALAMITY RELIEF
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:-
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:-
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
(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
(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.
(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).
(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:-
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.
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 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.