People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 08, 2013






Big Demo Demands National Calamity Declaration


Dusmanta Das


THERE was a big applause from the huge crowd which assembled for a demonstration before the state secretariat at Bhubaneswar on November 23, 11, 2013, when the CPI(M)ís Odisha state committee secretary Janardan Pati demanded that the UPA government at the centre must declare the serious disaster which occurred due to the cyclone Phailin, the flood and the incessant rain in mid-October 2013 as a national calamity.


The demonstration was preceded by a big and colourful procession of about 8,000 people from 20 districts, from the railway station to the state secretariat.


It may be noted that more than 1.5 crore people in 18 out of 30 districts of Odisha have been affected due to the severe cyclone, flood and the subsequent two spells of heavy downpour because of low depression. Although the loss of human life could be minimised due to various factors and measures, crops in 25 lakh acres of land and more then nine lakh houses were been damaged. Lakhs of fishermen lost their livelihood, and thousands of school, college and university buildings collapsed. The total loss of property has been estimated at around 20,000 crore rupees. Such a huge calamity cannot be faced successfully by the state government alone if the central government does not come forward with substantial help.


Hence the demand that the calamity must be declares as a National Calamity and Rs 5000 crore immediately granted to the state government from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), Pati said. In addition, he demanded that pucca houses must be built at a cost of Rs one lakh each for a million people who have become homeless. There should not be any discrimination on the ground whether a person had his house on his own land or on government land insofar as grant of compensation or house is concerned. Peasants and sharecroppers should be paid at Rs 15,000 per acre for non-irrigated land and Rs 25,000 for irrigated land for the crop losses. Loans of the affected peasants must be waived. Rural and urban artisans and small shopkeepers must be paid an advance of Rs 5,000 each. The affected fisherman must be compensated at Rs one lakh each for their boats and Rs 30,000 for nets. Rs 20,000 must be paid for the loss of each livestock. Workdays under the MGNREGA must be increased to 200 days with an enhanced wage Rs 300 per day. Reconstruction of educational and hospital buildings must be the top priority. Long term measures should be taken to prevent the recurrence of natural calamities to minimise the damage as far as possible. Ration cards must be provided to all families as per the 2011 census figures, all-party committee must be formed to supervise the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work. Pati asked the chief minister to lead an all-party delegation to the central government on the justified demands of Odisha, particularly on the natural calamity issue.


The demonstration meeting was presided over by veteran leader and former MP, Sivaji Patnaik. Others who spoke in the meeting included state secretariat members Ali Kishore Patnaik, Jagananth Mishra, Santosh Das, Bishnu Mohanty, Dusmanta Das, Sisir Hui, Suresh Panigrahi, former MLA Laxman Munda and state committee member Sarat Das. It was declared in the demonstration that a delegation of the state leaders, under the leadership of Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, Basudeb Acharia (leader of the CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha) and CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati, will meet the president, prime minister and home minister in New Delhi on December 5 and 6, 2013 and submit a memorandum demanding declaration of the Odisha disaster as a national calamity and a Rs 5000 crore grant from the NDRF.