Punjab revenue and rehabilitation minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who is attending the two-day National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) which began in New Delhi on Monday, has demanded an increase in crop compensation under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) from Rs. 6,000 per hectare to Rs. 12,000 in case the crop damage is beyond 50%.
"Keeping in view the rising input costs in agriculture and its more vulnerability to adverse climatic challenges, it becomes imperative to double this amount immediately," he demanded. He said the Punjab government was paying Rs. 5,000 per acre (Rs 12,500 per hectare) from state government funds. He also demanded doubling damage compensation for loss of head of cattle and houses due to natural calamities.
Majithia pointed out that keeping in view various disasters, right from flash floods to earthquakes, industrial, air, train and road accidents, it was high time to chalk out an effective disaster management plans at the national and state levels to deal with any eventuality, besides ensuring preventive measures.
He also advocated a comprehensive techno-legal regime to limit ill-effects of disasters through the formation of effective policies, guidelines and bylaws and their strict enforcement by state departments, local bodies, agencies and private establishments. The minister informed that Punjab, being one of India's prosperous states, was equally vulnerable to natural as well as man-made disasters.
He pointed out that the union government had not granted even a single penny to the state despite a demand of Rs. 5,112 crore as drought compensation.
He said the state had constituted its own state disaster response force. About 600 personnel of the Punjab Armed Police have been trained for the purpose by a battalion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) at Bathinda. More than 65,000 village volunteers and 1.3 lakh schoolchildren, along with teachers, have been trained on search-and-rescue and life-saving practices in 13 districts of the state.
Majithia said 10 district-level centres and one state-level emergency operation center had been established. The remaining 12 district emergency operation centres would be set up in one year, he added.