New Delhi: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with the chief ministers on April 2 to tackle COVID-19 epidemic, the Centre has approved for the release – in advance – of Rs 1,611 crore to Maharashtra under the State Disaster Risk Management Fund (SDRMF) to fight the disease as it has reported the highest number of such cases so far.
According to a news report in The Hindu, however, Kerala, which has registered one of the highest number of coronavirus cases across the country, has been allocated only Rs 157 crore – much less than most states.
The report quoted a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), as per which the central government, as a follow-up to the meeting, has approved for allocation Rs 11,092 crore in total to “state governments” under the SDRMF at the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission. The amount is the advance share of the first instalment of the Fund released to the states for the year 2020-21 “to augment funds available with the state governments” to handle the pandemic.
The state governments make use of the state disaster relief fund to respond to any notified disaster to provide immediate relief to the victims. This past March 14, the MHA had declared COVID-19 a notified disaster.
Going by the MHA statement, while Maharashtra has been allocated the highest share of the total amount, the states which have been allocated advanced funds more than Kerala are Andhra Pradesh (Rs 555 crore), Tamil Nadu (Rs 510 crore), West Bengal (Rs 505 crore), Uttarakhand (Rs 468 crore), Karnataka (Rs 395 crore), Assam (Rs 386 crore), Punjab (Rs 247 crore), Telangana (Rs 224 crore), Jharkhand (Rs 284 crore), Haryana (Rs 245 crore), Chhattisgarh (Rs 216 crore), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 204 crore), Arunachal Pradesh (Rs 125 crore), Manipur (Rs 23 crore), Meghalaya (Rs 33 crore), Tripura (Rs 34 crore), Mizoram (Rs 23 crore) and Nagaland (Rs 20 crore).
Though the news report said Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot had suggested to the Prime Minister in the video conference that the Centre should release one lakh crore to tackle the pandemic and the effect of the 21-day lockdown on the people and the economy, the MHA statement that it quoted didn’t name states like Rajasthan and Delhi in its list of fund allocations in advance under SDRMF.