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Tamil Nadu takes flood relief dispute to Supreme Court

Written by  Annesha Barua -- April 03rd 2024 03:49 PM
Tamil Nadu takes flood relief dispute to Supreme Court

Tamil Nadu takes flood relief dispute to Supreme Court

PTC News Desk: Following the devastation caused by massive floods in December, Tamil Nadu finds itself embroiled in a legal battle with the central government over relief funds. Seeking urgent assistance for the flood-ravaged districts, the Tamil Nadu government has approached the Supreme Court, urging an ex-parte order to compel the centre to release an interim relief package totaling Rs 2,000 crore.

The southern state, reeling from the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung and subsequent heavy rainfall, has estimated the total damage at a staggering Rs 37,000 crore. Accusations have been leveled against the central government by Tamil Nadu officials, claiming that despite repeated requests, relief funds have not been disbursed. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, denies these allegations.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed dismay over the perceived disparity in fund allocation, citing instances where neighbouring states like Kerala and Karnataka had received assistance. "Even yesterday Kerala had argued in the Supreme Court... that the union government ought to permit it to borrow Rs 10,000 crore. Karnataka also argued in the top court, seeking drought relief. We too kept asking for flood relief... but they didn't give," remarked Chief Minister Stalin.

In response, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman defended the central government's actions, stating that Rs 900 crore had already been released to Tamil Nadu through the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF). Sitharaman also highlighted the allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for the construction of stormwater drains in Chennai, urging the state to provide an account of its utilisation.

Amid escalating tensions between the BJP-led central government and non-BJP state administrations, the Supreme Court intervention sought by Tamil Nadu adds fuel to the ongoing political feud. With the Lok Sabha elections looming, disputes over fund allocation to southern states have intensified, extending beyond disaster relief to include tax devolution dues.

Acknowledging Tamil Nadu's plea, Sitharaman assured that a high-level committee would review the state's fund release request. "What has to be given... will be given," she affirmed.

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The clash over financial allocations spilled over into Parliament in February, with Sitharaman and Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury engaging in a heated exchange. Allegations of non-BJP states being deprived of financial dues were countered by Sitharaman, who emphasised adherence to Finance Commission recommendations.

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Meanwhile, Karnataka's Congress government staged protests both locally and in Delhi, accusing the BJP of neglecting drought relief efforts in several districts. Kerala's Left-led government, under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, lent support to the protest, echoing grievances over fund allocation. Union Minister V Muraleedharan responded to Kerala's claims by stating that funds due, as per submitted documents, had been provided.

The discontent extended to Telangana's Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) as well, with senior leader KT Rama Rao criticising the central government for its perceived "step-motherly" treatment. Amid these mounting tensions, various state governments continue to press for equitable distribution of funds and relief assistance, setting the stage for further political confrontation.

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(Inputs from agencies)



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