Kerala is facing its most devastating flood situation in almost a century. Hundreds of people have lost their lives and thousands have been displaced. The central and state government have been mobilising all possible resources towards relief and rescue operations. But there are many who have indulged in petty politics even in the times of calamity.
While there was a certain section of liberals trying to misrepresent facts and paint the tragedy in colours of regionalism for political agenda, Congress President Rahul Gandhi too, seems to have decided to focus less on the calamity and more on making demands to the PM that are not only irrelevant but an attempt to shift focus from the intense relief operations and create a controversy.
Rahul Gandhi has shared tweets in which he is repeatedly urging the PM to declare the flood in Kerala a ‘national disaster’.
The first tweet posted yesterday hints at the idea that by not declaring the Kerala floods as a national disaster, the PM is putting thousands of lives and livelihoods at stake. The second Tweet, shared hours later, acknowledges the 500 crores PM Modi allocated for Kerala but again hints that it is not enough and the only way to help the people of Kerala will be to declare the Kerala floods as ‘national disaster’.
Rahul’s claim was busted by Times Of India Editor Bharti Jain. Jain clarified that proclaiming a calamity ‘national disaster’ was relevant when the National Calamity Contingency Fund was in place and there is no provision under the Disaster Management Act to declare a natural calamity as ‘national disaster’. Thus making it clear that the declaration is irrelevant as the centre and state are already providing all possible help.
Concern 4 Kerala appreciated, but there’s no provision in Disaster Mgmt Act to declare a natural calamity as ‘national disaster’. It was relevant when National Calamity Contingency Fund was in place. Centre has already pressed all its resources. So ‘natl disaster’ tag irrelevant https://t.co/2KYiIHwzl7
— Bharti Jain (@bhartijainTOI) August 18, 2018
It is notable here that the Disaster Management Act of 2005 extends to the whole of India. The State Disaster Management Authorities and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been established under the act to provide services in all states. The National Disaster Management Authority has the PM as its chairperson and the executive committee has the representations of all relevant union ministries like defence, home, health, finance, drinking water and sanitation which have already their resources engaged in Kerala floods.
As the funds under the erstwhile National Calamity Contingency Fund have been merged with the National Disaster Management Fund as per the 13th finance commission it effectively means that every major calamity gets all possible help from the centre and there is no relevance of declaring a ‘national disaster’ anymore.
Rahul’s claim was also criticised by many on social media where users recalled the Uttarakhand floods and blamed Rahul for delaying relief material so he could have ‘photo ops’.
Rahul Gandhi is a puppet of separatists. This vulture is spreading hatred in time of crisis. He and his mom and their battery operated robot held up relief material during Uttarakhand floods and shamelessly flagged off for photo ops. Ppl dnt forget.. https://t.co/ZLjdy7YBxG
— Ashu (@muglikar_) August 19, 2018
— The Frustrated Indian (@FrustIndian) August 18, 2018
The Indian armed forces have been carrying out intense relief work in Kerala and the ‘Operation Madad’ launched by all forces together has already entered its 11th day. On 17th August, the Army, Navy, Airforce, coast guard and NDRF were ordered to mobilise all their additional resources to Kerala to help citizens.