The controversies around devastating floods in Kerala refuse to die. Once the allegations that the central government was ignoring the request for aid, and media spreading the narrative that North India was depriving South India of its due, currently a new allegation has been created.
For the previous few days, a section of media has been covering that the central government has sent a bill for rescue operations done by central security forces throughout the floods.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Air Force has asked the state to pay over ₹33.79 crore as the charge for rescue operations. This was presented as a grave injustice done to Kerala by the center by many folks. Shashi Tharoor tweeted that central govt is taking back cash from the help it’s given to the state.
Although the actual fact that the center has sent a bill to the Kerala government is true, the claim that it’s an uncommon act done against Kerala is false. By sending the bill, the union government has performed a routine procedure that is usually done when security forces are engaged in civilian works, and it’s not distinctive to Kerala floods.
According to accounting rules of the govt., the government has to pay for numerous duties performed by military and additionally for numerous things used for such works. The govt. Accounting Rules, 1990 specified by the Controller General of Accounts says that state government has to pay for use of the military for numerous activities like rescue operations in disasters, help taken for development activities, etc.
Just for taking help of the military within the maintenance of law and order, the government need not pay. Appendix five of the rules give the detail of this procedure.
The defense budget provides for defense connected activities of the military, so for any non-defense use of the forces, it’s to be paid from the civilian budget. that’s a normal procedure being followed, and not something the Modi government has specifically done for Kerala floods.
Though theoretically, the state government should pay for it, in most cases it comes from the central government. While allocating relief package for a state after such a disaster, the cost of preparation of military is factored in that package.
At the time of disbursement of the money to the state, this amount is subtracted. This suggests the state is really not paying from its funds, However, it’s paid from the grant received from the central government. This is often essentially a book adjustment done by the Centre, as the amount is directly paid to the relevant armed force by the union government.
This is not the first time the central government returning under fire for this ‘billing’, this happened after most disasters involving rescue operations by defense forces. In 2015, the center had sent a bill of ₹500 crore to Jammu and Kashmir for services provided by defense forces throughout the devastating floods within the state in 2014. After this was reported by media, it had created the same outrage.
Defense ministry sending a bill to states for use of defense forces for non-defense functions is a routine accounting procedure as per established law, and it doesn’t reflect any bias against any state as political parties and section of media are attempting to portray.
Photo credits: NP News24