Taking note of large-scale deaths because of the heat wave in various parts of country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked a Group of Ministers to discuss and decide on its inclusion as natural calamity.
"A GoM has already been constituted to look into the issue of inclusion of erosion as an eligible calamity. The GoM will also discuss and decide on inclusion of heat wave as natural calamity," Vice Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority M Shashidhar Reddy told PTI.
The move came after Reddy wrote to the PM citing large-scale deaths due to extreme heat in various parts of the country mainly in Andhra Pradesh. "After my representation to the PM, an order has been issued recently for GoM to discuss the inclusion of heat wave as natural calamity so that relief can be given under the National Disaster Response Fund and State Disaster Response Fund," he said.
At present, avalanches, cyclone, cloud burst, drought, earthquake or tsunami, fire, flood, hailstorm, landslides, pest attack and frost or cold wave are defined as natural calamity by the central government.
A compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh under the NDRF is given to the next of kin of those killed in natural calamity. The GoM, under the chairmanship of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, has Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Water Resource Minister Harish
Rawat and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwali as members.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs Paban Singh Ghatowar and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi are the special invitees to the group. "I have also been invited to the GoM," Reddy said.
Death toll in Andhra Pradesh due to the intense heat wave touched 1,157 so far this year as against 447 in 2012. "As gathered from reports appearing in different media sources, there have been deaths due to heat waves in other states too like Gujarat (100), Maharashtra (90), Odisha (37), Rajasthan (35) and Bihar (34), totaling to 1,453 (296 1,157 in Andhra Pradesh) deaths in 2013," Reddy had said in his representation to the PM. He said that the government had constituted a GoM in 2011 to look into inclusion of cold wave or frost as an eligible calamity for relief under the NDRF/SDRF based on representation from states. The cold wave or frost was identified as a natural calamity last year.
"In context of large scale deaths from heat waves reported from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and from certain other parts of country, there is an immediate need to amend extant guidelines on NDRF or SDRF to include heat wave as an eligible calamity," Reddy had said.