Government asks MHA to pay

Nearly four years after devastating floods hit Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has got a bill of Rs 286 crore from the defence ministry for the rescue and relief operations undertaken by armed forces during the deluge. The state, however, has asked the ministry of home affairs to foot the bill.

In a letter sent to state authorities on July 19 this year, the defence ministry has written: “It is requested to take necessary action for reimbursement of expenditure incurred by armed forces during the operation ‘megh rahat’ in J&K in consultation with the ministry of home affairs.”

The communiqué was sent by Sudershan Kumar, under-secretary, MoD to J&K’s revenue secretary.

The revenue department was looking after the relief and rehabilitation works during natural calamities in J&K before the department of disaster management, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction was carved out from it in 2015.

As per the defence ministry’s claim, the expenditure incurred by the army’s 15 and 16 corps—based in Srinagar and Jammu respectively—for rescue operation is Rs 2.08 crore.

The bill of the army’s aviation department is Rs 32.23 crore and that of its operation and logistics department Rs 8.11 crore.

The Indian Air Force has charged a whopping Rs 243.96 crore for its services during the deluge, according to the bill.

After receiving the bill, the government discussed the matter threadbare and wrote to the MHA on September 12.

“The said claims (five files) are submitted to the ministry (MHA) for reimbursement to the ministry of defence,” reads the letter written by the state government to joint secretary, J&K division in MHA.

The state sent the bills to MHA because it (MHA) had set aside Rs 500 crore in 2015 to pay the bills raised by defence ministry for airdropping essentials and rescue operation during the floods.

Of Rs 1602 crore approved by a high-level committee headed by home minister Rajnath Singh under National Disaster Response Fund following J&K floods, Rs 500 crore were meant for payment for airdropping of essential supplies and rescue, based on the bills raised by the ministry of defence.

Devastating floods hit J&K in September 2014, consuming more than 280 lives apart from damaging private and public property worth thousands of crores.