Delhi Furnishes 500 Cr Bill For Rescue Ops

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SRINAGAR: Over 1.5 million people were affected in the floods that devastated large parts of Kashmir, especially Srinagar, in September 2014. While majority of the flood hit are still hoping  to receive aid from the government,  the Defence Ministry was paid Rs 500 crore for its assistance to the State government for carrying rescue operations during the floods.

The Union government adjusted the amount from the Rs 1602.56 crore assistance given to the state government from its share in the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) for dealing with the floods last September.

Indian Air Force had air dropped food, water and medicine and rescued tourists and locals from several areas in what the armed forces called “Operation Megh Rahat,” officials said. However the operation came with a large bill for services rendered.

The state government was informed about the bill by the Union Home Ministry through a letter dated February 6.

The letter lists “payment of Air Bills for airdropping of essential supplies and rescue (tentative Rs. 500 crore) as per actual, based on the bills raised by the Ministry of Defence.”

The home ministry letter says that the money has been taken from the “State Disaster Response Fund account of the states for instant disasters.”

Earlier the Centre had dismissed reports that the Ministry of Defence had raised any such bill against the Jammu and Kashmir government for rescue and relief operations carried out during the devastating floods.

“I have checked with the Ministry of Defence. No such bill has been raised. There is no truth in the reports,” the then Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami had said in October.

On Monday the Defence Ministry said it is routine after any such relief operation to raise costs because the government needs to account for material, man hours and cost incurred by the Indian Air Force in sorties.

“This is general deducted from the relief package that is subsequently announced,” a defence ministry official said.

“This is a book debit, there is no cash transfer. During disaster relief operations, the forces incur huge expenses, which needs to be refunded,” the official explained.

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