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Delayed quake payments to figure at PM-CM talks Wednesday, December 5, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Broken promises and delayed payments for quake relief activities in the state will dominate the meeting between Chief Minister Modi and Prime Minister Vajpayee in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Modi is likely to raise many issues where the Centre had faltered on the quantum of
relief for carrying out quake relief and rehabilitation.

"...We are sure the CM will be given a good hearing, given his rapport with the central BJP leaders," said a senior bureaucrat who accompanied Modi to the Capital on Tuesday. Modi met MPs from Gujarat in the evening to brief them on issues they should take up in the House.

The pending issues include release of Rs 25.72 crore from the PM's relief fund to compensate the kin of those who had died in the quake.

Another Rs 431 crore out of the Rs 709 crore sanctioned, to be paid by the Union ministry of rural development for various quake-related development works and establishment of a seismology research centre in Gujarat at a cost of Rs 26 crore will also figure at the talks.

The PM will be urged to give 100% deduction in income-tax to donations for providing relief to the quake victims, which expired on September 30.

"As the flow of donations to NGOs and charitable trusts for quake reconstruction work is continuing, the Government of Gujarat has requested for exemption under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act for receipt of donations beyond September 30 and their utilisation beyond March 31, 2002," an official note carried by Modi to Delhi states.

The note expresses Gujarat's gratitude to the PM for responding immediately by sanctioning Rs 100 crore for quake relief on the very next day of the tragedy. It notes that the PM had sent another cheque for Rs 50 crore from his relief fund on March 7, 2001, to enable the state to pay full compensation to the families of those killed in the temblor.

But "latest figures" suggest that there has been 17,143 deaths and hence another Rs 25.72 crore will be needed. The note comes despite the government's recent admission that the number of dead was initially "inflated".

Under quake-related rural development programmes, the note states, the state has received the full Rs 100 crore sanctioned for drinking water supply schemes, Rs 40 crore for Operation Blackboard and Rs 40.35 crore for the food-for-work programme.

But it has not received full amount for other heads. Of the Rs 400 crore sanctioned for training masons, only Rs 100 crore has been received. Similarly, very little amount has come in under different rural housing schemes, drought works and watershed projects.

The note the CM is carrying also includes other issues like low crude oil royalty and lack of enough allocation of gas to state power projects.

It demands delinking of the Vadinar area from Kandla Port Trust, giving central assistance of Rs 41 crore for completing the Science City project. It expresses the state's opposition to declaring the entire Gujarat coastal region as "sensitive" which would prevent the setting up of any submarine cable landing stations.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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