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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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The Orissa tragedy

Sir, - The efforts invested in understanding `Orissa laid waste' and `Money matters' (July 29) are not commensurate with the tragedy. As a discerning reader, I was looking forward to learning more about the Orissa State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA). This was essential to crosscheck many value judgments proclaimed in the piece. One has also read in news reports that the OSDMA had encouraged a people/community-based disaster management plan preparation after the super cyclone in 1999.

Against these assertions how is one to appreciate that `money matters'. Calamity relief in the age of fiscal imprudence, or shall we say profligacy, has unfortunately been used by the Eleventh Finance Commission (EFC) to window dress the political agenda. The damaging observations by the CAG notwithstanding, I wish the author had made an attempt to examine the money expended on foreign travel under the garb of IDNDR and disaster mitigation strategy formulation.

While the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution make an attempt at decentralisation, EFC, in the garb of National Centre for Calamity Management and National Calamity Contingency Fund, has done just the opposite. Therefore, how independently of the Government can damage caused by a ``natural calamity'' be identified and estimated is not a surreal issue.

Prof. J. George,

New Delhi

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