Assam speaker refers non-utilisation of flood relief fund to privileges panel

Revenue and disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi shrugs away responsibility

 
By Amarjyoti Borah
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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Non-utilisation of funds meant for flood relief is proving to be a major embarrassment for the Congress-ruled government in Assam. State Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi on Monday referred to the Committee of Privileges the alleged non-utilisation of fund disbursed for Sonitpur district in the state despite his ruling on the matter in the last session of the Assembly in August.

Raising the topic as “point of order” on the first day of the Assembly session, Padma Hazarika, opposition party legislator from the Sootea constituency in Sonitpur district, called the attention of the speaker to the matter.

In the last Assembly session when the issue was raised by Hazarika, the speaker had given a ruling that the money be utilised. “You (speaker) had given a ruling that the Rs 1.54 crore fund for Sonitpur district, which is lying idle, be utilised. The money was for flood victims. Now winter has come and nothing has happened yet," said Hazarika.

The speaker said that he views the matter seriously, as it is a breach of privilege, and said he would take action as per the recommendations of the Privileges Committee.

"We have to find out whose responsibility it is. It cannot go on like this," the speaker said.

The sum of Rs 1.54 was announced for Sonitpur under the chief minister’s special package. However, the money is lying idle and unutilised till date.

Sonitpur is one of the most flood-prone districts in the state, and according to data from the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASMDA), over 150,000 people and 116 villages in the district were severely affected by floods this year.

ASDMA reports also point out that over 32,000 people in the district had to take shelter in the relief camps.

Assam revenue and disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi said he was not responsible as the fund was announced under chief minister’s special package.

The Opposition parties countered Majhi’s claim, saying perhaps the minister is not aware about the responsibilities of his department.
 

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