The Punjab Revenue & Rehabilitation Minister Mr. Bikram Singh Majithia today underlined the need for major enhancement in the present limit of Rs.6000 per hectare compensation under State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), in case of crop damage beyond 50%. He said that keeping in view the rising input costs in agriculture and its more vulnerability to adverse climatic challenges; it becomes imperative to double this amount immediately. He informed that Punjab government was paying Rs.5000 per acre i.e. Rs.12500 per hectare by itself bleeding for this huge difference. He also demanded to double the damage compensation for loss of cattle heads and house due to various natural calamities.
Taking part in the deliberations during the inaugural session of a 2-day “National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR)” held here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at Vigyan Bhawan, Mr. Majithia pointed out that keeping in view the gravity of various disasters right from flash floods to earthquakes, industrial , air , train and road accidents, it was a high time to chalk out our effective Disaster Management Plans both at National as well as states level to deal with any eventuality besides ensuring preventive measures. He also advocated for a comprehensive techno legal regime to limit the ill effects of disasters through formation of effective policies, guidelines and bye laws and their strict enforcement by relevant state departments, local bodies, agencies and private establishments.
The Revenue Minister informed that the Punjab being one of India’s prosperous states was equally vulnerable to both natural & manmade disasters. He pointed out that due to severe drought during last Paddy season, the Punjab government and hard working farming community of the state had to bleed themselves to ensure the food security of the country. He lamented that even after in principal admission, the Union government did not grant a single penny to state against a demand of Rs. 5112 crore drought compensation.Reiterating the Punjab government’s demand for setting up of a permanent National Disaster Management Centre at Ludhiana , Mr. Majithia revealed that the State had already offered 50 acre of land free of cost to Government of India for this purpose. He pointed out that in a recent major Industrial Accident in Jalandhar, 7th Battalion of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) stationed at Bathinda played a laudable role in rescue operation, that was widely appreciated.
He revealed that our government has already started the process for preparing detailed Disaster Management Plan at village, block, district and state level and at the level of inpidual departments through active participation of various stake holders. Besides this, the State has already developed its Disaster Management Policy, Standard Operating Procedures, and Training Manuals for various stake holders. He further said that the State has constituted its own State Disaster Response Force. A total of 600 persons of Punjab Armed Police have been trained by an NDRF Battalion, Bathinda for this purpose. More than 65,000 village volunteers and 1.30 Lac school children along-with teachers have been trained on search and rescue and life saving practices during in 13 districts of the state. 10 District level and One State level emergency operation centre has been established. Remaining 12 district emergency operation centres would be set up in one year, he added.
The Revenue Minister also demanded to raise the 5% bar on SDRF for creation of Disaster Response Infrastructure to minimum 20% so that required infrastructure could be created to meet any eventuality due to any calamity strike. He also demands for provision of at least 10 percent of SDRF money for preparatory or emergency flood protection measures.