The Centre has tightened norms of drought and flood relief assistance under its National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) following a Supreme Court order, a move opposed by states, especially the Congress-ruled Karnataka. The definition of drought-hit areas has been revised in a manner that only “normal and severe drought” hit areas are entitled to drought relief under the NDRF. Earlier, the areas were categorised into three groups to assess drought impact. The NDRF, set up in 2007 in consonance with the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is under the administrative control of the Union home ministry. Some states have blamed the Centre for changing NDRF norms without holding consultations with them. “NDRF norms have been revised unilaterally without discussing it with the states. There are aberrations,” Karnataka Agriculture Minister Byre Gowda said.
Going by the new norms, half of the districts that were declared as drought-hit in Karnataka last year cannot fit into the new definition. This would mean less central assistance from the NDRF to states, he said.
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The rules have been revised as per the Supreme Court order, but the changes cannot be done without discussing with the states, he added. “We have made representation to the home ministry. We have requested for a meeting with all states on this issue. We want old norms to be continued,” Gowda said. Gowda was here in the national capital on June 29 to request for early release of drought relief for rabi crop loss in 2016-17.