New Delhi: Opposition members in Lok Sabha on Tuesday picked holes in government's strategy to deal with natural calamities, deriding the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Executive Committee "toothless and headless".
In a discussion on the situation caused by natural disasters like floods in Jammu and Kashmir, cyclone in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and drought in Maharashtra, they contended that the government was less than prepared to face calamities.
Initiating the discussion, Kalikesh Singh Deo (BJD) said no member has been appointed to NDMA and National Executive Committee since last six months.
"NMDA and NEC are being looked upon as resting ground for retired bureaucrats and politicians who have not been elected. There are no experts or specialists. Lack of seriousness of governments since 2005 speaks of this habit.
"NDMA and NEC are toothless and headless ... Members have resigned and no member has been appointed in the last six months. The NEC, which is supposed to advise the NDMA has not met even once since 2008-12," Deo said.
He said that since 2006, the agency could not chalk out a National Disaster Action Plan to deal with challenges like drought, floods, heat and cold waves, adding that in 2013, more than 150 lakh houses were destroyed, 420 lakh hectare of cultivable was affected and 22,759 people lost their lives due to natural calamities.
The ministries of Home Affairs and Agriculture have the habit of "usurping" the powers of the NDMA, he alleged.
"It is important to have mitigation and a proper institutional set up," he said.
Deo said Odisha was hit by Phailin twice since two consecutive years, but got little financial help from the Centre.
"After Phailin, Odisha had demanded Rs 5,842 crore was demanded, but was given only Rs 399.84 crore, while the Centre is still sitting on the proposal of Rs 750 crore after Hudhud hit the state," he said.
Faulting the government for keeping NDMA headless since June, Shashi Tharoor (Cong) said the Centre is following a policy of "dismiss in haste, but fill the post at leisure".
He suggested that the Centre should involve private sector in disaster management and count such activity as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Chandrakant Khaire (Shiv Sena) demanded relief package of Rs 2,000 crore for drought affected areas of Maharashtra, like Vidarbha. He sought central assistance of Rs 5 lakh per family to the next of kin of farmers who committed suicide.