By Hemant Gairola
Uttarakhand Government says it has received far less towards disaster relief than what Centre claims to have given it, a series of RTI applications have revealed.
Centre had announced relief packages for the Himalayan state after flash floods had wreaked havoc there in June 2013. Advocate Ramesh Kumar Jaisawal, a resident of Mussoorie, filed RTI applications with the Centre as well as the State, seeking information about the relief packages. The Centre said it gave Rs.9,171.7 crore to Uttarakhand under various schemes, such as Prime Minister's Relief Fund and Special Plan Assistance. However, the State admits to have received only Rs.5,727.44 crore rupees from the Government.
An article published in The Tribune earlier this week quotes Jaisawal as saying that though the Centre released money for Uttarakhand under seven schemes, the state claims it received money only under five packages. The advocate-cum-RTI activist told The Tribune he smelt a rot there. He underlined that it's a sum of Rs.1,509.34 crore that cannot be traced.
Jaisawal said it was a news item he came across in September last year that piqued him and got him to file the RTI applications. He said he read about the appalling condition of the Char Dham Yatra route and protests at Badrinath by locals, demanding repair and reconstruction. He pointed out that recently, when Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat visited disaster-affected villages, he had stated the Government had no funds for rehabilitation. The advocate noted that if the lost money is recovered and duly utilised, all disaster-affected people would benefit immensely.
He has written to the CBI, Union Finance Minister and the Prime Minister to conduct an inquiry and recover the money.