SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL (CONTD.): ... 600 lakh villages, and the number of bank branches would be below 70,000. How do we cover all those villages? How do we reach out to the remotest of the people? How do we reach to the remotest corners of the country? The banks are adopting to the system of tying up with MFI's, NGO's, Panchayats, other trusts and section 25 companies, and also the post offices for taking the banking to the doorstep of the people, not that the person would come to the bank, but the bank must reach the doorsteps of the person and, for that, even now, we are in the very incipient stages thereof. But even the branchless system is being introduced, whereby, a hand held terminal would be taken by the post office man or by any other of those business facilitators or the correspondents to the person there, and using the biometric card, the amount could be deposited in the account or it could be withdrawn from the account. Those are the ways which the Banks are really innovating to reach out to the people so that banking system touches the life of everybody in the country.
Sir, there was a point made about, well, NPAs that, perhaps, there is more that we hide than we reveal. It is not like that. But I would still like to refer to the fact of NPAs again. The hon. Members are aware of this fact that from a very worrisome level of NPAs, the net NPAs today have been reduced to 1.04 or 1.05 per cent. But the question that was, perhaps, asked by Mr. Ramachandriah or Mr. Thakur was this. What was the amount that has been really written off? Sir, all public sector banks, put together, have written off debts amounting to Rs. 8,300 crores in 2005-06, and Rs. 9100 crores in the year 2006-07 respectively. This includes the amount written off in compromise settlements. These matters, Sir, again, would raise an issue on which there is a divided opinion as to what is the level of autonomy that has to be granted to the banks and to what extent is the control that the Government must have on the banks. That is another point on which we have a divided opinion always, Sir. But, then, these decisions are not taken by the Government. These decisions are taken by the Board. Banks are today board-driven. The Government has strengthened the corporate governance of the banks. And, I would like to really, with almost all the humility at my command, tell the hon. Members that there is a distinction, as we see, between the ownership and the management. There is an inference drawn that if we take the ownership of the bank shares, we are, perhaps, having the ownership with the control in our hands. For the all the nationalised banks, the Government owns shares more than 51 per cent. There is varying percentages of shares, but, in all the banks, the share is more than 51 per cent which, incidentally, takes me to the point which Mr. Surendra Lath also said as to what are the other recommendations of the Narsimham Committee. This was one of the recommendations of the Narsimham Committee that the Government may bring it down to 33 per cent. The NDA Government had decided to do it. Our stand is very clear. The stand of the UPA is very clear on this. We stand for safeguarding the public sector character of the banks. Therefore, the shares of the banks; the Government equity in the banks will not come down below 51 per cent. That is our commitment. We are standing by that. But, at the same time, we feel that when we have that...(interruptions)..
SHRI C. RAMACHANDRAIAH: Till what time, Sir? Sorry to interrupt you.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: That question does not arise. But, then, we want the management to be in the hands of the Board only. I can say it with full sense of satisfaction that the Boards of the public sector banks are doing a commendable job. There may be an aberration here and there. There was a case referred to by Mr. Ramachandraiah. But another hon. Member said something else on that. I would not like to go into the merits of those individual cases where there were some disputes. (Continued by PK/3C)
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL (CONTD.): But, I can only say that the system is strong enough to take appropriate action wherever the situation warrants. Because we stand committed to infuse greater strength in the working of banks, because we feel that it is the banks‹ which are the driving force for our economy. The way the economy has progressed, the banks have a tremendous role to play in that. Sir, in this context, I would like to say that the deposits in the entire banking system have risen very appreciably during this period; at a stage, it had become such growth which rather had to be modulated.
Sir, a point was also raised about outsourcing; I would like to answer that point also. Again, I am trying to make the point that it is not the Government, it is the Reserve Bank as the regulator which, from time to time, issues various guidelines for the banks to follow. In this context, to make the working of the banks more efficient, to help banks deliver better, there have been guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank about outsourcing also. These guidelines are meant for banks to manage their risks arising out of outsourcing of some of their activities more effectively, as I said. But on these activities -- which they have done -- banks have repeatedly said that the core banking activity of the banks will not be outsourced. That should be the concern, Sir, and we would adequately answer that concern here. But, then there are certain other functions. Banks don't print money. They take money from depositors, manage that money, and give loans further; that is how they run the entire establishment and also meet the expectations of our countrymen. In that case, to cut down on cost -- that was the point which I would like to come to later as to how to work out the interest -- and to make functioning more effective, activities may be outsourced --, like collection of application forms, documents, valuations, marketing of products and other ancilliary functions like transfer of cash, security office maintenance, etc. However, banks are not committed to outsource core functions, as I said, Sir. As regards the Reserve Bank guidelines, that was a legitimate concern, I would say. Why should there be even one case? That certain tactics are used by some banks, but not by the public sector banks. Let me say, Sir, there were a very few cases. But why should any bank do it? We share that concern. The RBI guidelines are very clear on this. There are unambiguous guidelines on this. For recovery of the amounts, their agents must be held responsible. The banks are responsible for the acts of their agents, that is, the direct sales agents, or, the direct marketing agents also. Sir, in a recent judgement, the Supreme Court has come down very heavily on any person resorting to those practices. That is an illegal activity. If any bank employs an agent who goes and harasses a person elsewhere, well, you can take recourse to law; the ordinary law, the general law of the country and get him booked for that. We have no sympathy for that. We, certainly, believe in transparency and effective working of banks and our reports are that banks are doing that.
Here, I think a point was made about making some alluding tools the performance of the ICICI Bank. Look at the entire facts. There are number of branches. When you talk of the social responsibility which the State Bank of India has to perform, the public sector banks are mandated. There is a vast difference between the two. Under what environment have they to function? Look at the number of branches. I am just giving the example of State Bank of India. The number of branches that the State Bank of India has is 9,143. Out of these, in rural areas, there are 3,913 branches and in semi-urban areas there are 2,480 branches. These put together go to over 6,300. This is the number of branches that the State Bank of India has in the rural and semi-urban areas whereas the total number of branches that the ICICI Bank has in rural areas is 75 and in semi-urban areas it is 99 only. (Contd. by 3D/PB)
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL (CONTD.): The banks submit their annual branch expansion plans to the Reserve Bank of India. The Reserve Bank of India after ensuring that they plan to open adequate number of branches in the rural and semi-urban areas grants them the permission. Only then the permission is granted and there are detailed guidelines about that but I do not really wish to refer to them at the moment. But then the branch expansion programme is undertaken by the banks, keeping in view the viability of the banks also. But, then, Sir, here again, I would hasten to add that same point. At certain places, opening of a brick and morter branch may not be viable, economically and financially, from the business point of view. It is precisely to ensure that the banks reach the doorsteps of those people also that we are now adopting the branchless banking of which I made a reference earlier.
Sir, earlier when I referred to the financial inclusion, I missed only a point about that. A Bill has already been introduced. The Micro Financial Sector Regulation and Development Bill which is introduced in the Parliament provides for effective supervision and even development of the micro finance sector to which the Government is committed, as I said earlier.
Sir, there were some other very few points raised. About the decline in profits, well, the figures speak otherwise. But if you were to take the figure of one particular year when you talk of the return on assets -- here, I would like to refer to this ICICI, the example which you were then citing that though a good number of banks have crossed that target which is internationally accepted, -- one per cent is internationally considered fine -- there has been a little decline last year in the State Bank of India, but so has been in the case of the ICICI. But that is precisely to ensure that you don't lend at higher rates also. That is a very complicated task which the banks have to perform. On the one hand, they have the social responsibility to see that the interest do not go beyond a particular point, and, on the other hand, we are answerable to you also when you say, 'well why hasn't the bank made the profit?' If you point out inefficiency on the part of the bank, fine, the bank has to be taken to task. But if the banks are trying to strike that balance as to how to perform the social obligations also and, at the same time, book some profit which is almost equal to the internationally accepted targets, there is nothing wrong with it, Sir, because in net interest margin, we don't want to go beyond three per cent. If the banks have a larger net interest margin, we wouldn't really welcome that all. So, we would, therefore, ensure on them that when you take the deposits and the loans, there has to be that balance between the two.
Sir, I think when there was a reference to the benefit to artisans, etc., I would only like to say that out of that 40 per cent of the priority sector, 18 per cent is for the agriculture, 10 per cent has to go to the weaker sections, -- and in weaker sections, besides all those, recently minorities have also been included -- and then 12 per cent for all other categories under that, and even in the case of housing, Sir, when a reference was made to the housing, it has been provided that loans up to Rs. 20 lakhs for housing will also be considered on priority sector.
Sir, I have tried to answer some of the points. ...(Interruptions)...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): I think, you have answered all points. ...(Interruptions)... I will give you a chance. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: Sir, with these words, I thank the hon. Members for having participated in the discussion and for having extended their support to the bank. I can only assure the Members that we share their sentiments on all the matters to really make banking sector as a potent vehicle for the growth of the country and any suggestion by them any time would certainly be most welcome.
With these words, Sir, I conclude. (Ends)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Yes; Mr. Darda. ...(Interruptions)... Only one question will be allowed.
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THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Please put only one question. Mr. Minister, there are others also; you may reply to all the questions together... (Interruption)... Only one question please.
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SHRI TAPAN KUMAR SEN: Sir, this relates to outsourcing. The hon. Minister has said in his reply that it is a board-driven thing. The IBA as such has entered into an understanding with the employee organizations on 2nd June...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: No speech, please put only the question.
SHRI TAPAN KUMAR SEN: Sir, I am coming to that. It says that outsourcing would be done only within the area of IT-related activities, and even there it would be done where in-house capabilities are not available. But the fact remains that even in State Banks, outsourcing has been extended....
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): No, no. That is not allowed. You are making a statement. This is not allowed.
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Sir, he needs an answer to the question.
SHRI TAPAN KUMAR SEN: Sir, I have only made a statement.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: No, I have said that you could put only a specific question. You cannot make a statement; you could only put a specific question. (Interruptions)
SHRI TAPAN KUMAR SEN: Sir, I have put a question. He must have understood my question.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: You are making a statement.
SHRI TAPAN KUMAR SEN: Sir, I have put my question.
SHRI ROBERT KHARSHIING: Sir, my question is, why since November 2006 till July 2007 -- and I am quoting the Economics Editor of the Indian Express-- RBI has purchased...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: No, you cannot quote. Please put the question.
SHRI ROBERT KHARSHIING: Sir, why has RBI purchased about 28 billion dollars in the foreign exchange market which averages to about three billion dollars per month? Is this the reason why inflation has increased...(interruption)...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: The hon. Minister may answer that if he thinks it is within the purview of the Bill.
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Sir, the Minister has very approvingly mentioned the Micro-finance Bill as the panacea for the problems of self-help groups. My question to the hon. Minister is: is he aware of the strong objections raised by many of the self-help group movements and women's organizations to the Bill, which they believe is going to sound the death-knell for the thrift movement in this country? What are you doing about that?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Mr. Ramachandraiah, please put a specific question.
SHRI C. RAMACHANDRAIAH: Sir, the Minister has made a very exhaustive reply and I must appreciate that.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Please put only the question and don't make any speech.
SHRI C. RAMACHANDRAIAH: Sir, there was only question that was not replied to and we wish to seek clarification on that. You have said that you have made the payment on June 29 and the transaction was completed in the first week of July. 30th June is the RBI's accounting year. You have tried to justify the issuance of an Ordinance. Our question relates to that. What difference would it have made if the transactions were to be completed even today? You should not have waited for one year.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Your question is clear. (Interruptions) Just two more questions. (Interruptions) Shri Shanappa, put only the question.
SHRI K. B. SHANAPPA: Sir, there is a provision made by the State Governments and the Central Government that after the death of the employees, their dependents would be given employment on the basis of their social and economic conditions. Would you assure the House... (Interruptions) Sir, please allow me to speak.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: That was clear. (Interruptions) Please put only one question. (Interruptions) I had thought that you had finished. Let me come back to you after this.
SHRI EKANATH K. THAKUR: Sir, the hon. Minister has not answered the question whether the Government, through RBI, is trying to legitimise the institution of moneylenders.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Sit down please, that was clear. Mr. Azmi...(Interruptions)... Put only questions.
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شری ابوعاصماعظمی : سر،میںآپکےمادھیمسےمانّئےمنتری جی سےپوچھناچاہتاہوںکہکیاپالیٹکللوگوںکوبینکسےفائنینسکرنےکےلئے کوئی ریسٹرکشنسہیں؟ ہمپہلےجبپالیٹکلنہیںتھے،توہمیںاپنےلئےلونفائنینسکرانےمیںبہتآسانی ہوتی تھی۔۔مداخلت۔۔
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Your question is clear; that is enough.
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شری ابوعاصماعظمی : ہملوگوںکوکریڈٹکارڈاورلوننہیںدئےجارہےہیں۔۔مداخلت۔۔ میںنےلیٹرلکھاہے،لیکنکوئی جوابنہیںدیا۔
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Please sit down; your question was clear. Ms. Mabel Rebello...(Interruptions).. Nothing except what she says would go on record...(Interruptions)... Please don't put me in trouble because I have allowed this. (Interruptions) (Followed by 3f/hk)
MS. MABEL REBELLO: Sir, the hon. Minister mentioned that about 20 lakhs of Self-Help Groups have been formed. I would like to know from the hon. Minister: What is the total deposits of these Self Help Groups? What is interest that banks give to these Self Help Groups, especially women? What is the interest rate that they charge when they borrow? What is the corporate rate that they charge from the corporate sector?
SHRI K.B. SHANAPPA: After the death of an employee working in the bank, bank is not giving jobs to their dependents. It was previously given but now it has been stopped. I ask the concerned Minister through you, Sir, whether you are going to give a chance to dependents to be employed in the banks.
SHRIMATI PREMA CARIAPPA: Sir, the hon. Minister said that student loan is issued in the college premises itself. I want to tell that one student who approached a nationalised bank to obtain loan was asked to go to his native place. When his father is working in Bangalore and he is studying in Bangalore, he was not given loan there. It was said that it is a new policy. I want to know from the hon. Minister whether such a new policy has been introduced that a student cannot get bank loan other than from his native place. ..(Interruptions)..
ÁÖß ¹ý¦ü®ÖÖ¸üÖµÖÞÖ ¯ÖÖ×ÞÖ : ÃÖ¸ü, ‹Ûú ÃÖ¾ÖÖ»Ö Æîü ...(¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö) ÃÖ¸ü, †Ö¯Ö µÖÆü †®µÖÖµÖ Ûú¸ü ¸üÆêü Æïü … (¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Please sit down. ..(Interruptions).. Please sit down. ..(Interruptions)..
ÁÖß ¹ý¦ü®ÖÖ¸üÖµÖÞÖ ¯ÖÖ×ÞÖ : ÃÖ¸ü, ÃÖ¸üÛúÖ¸üß ¯ÖÖ™üá Ûêú ´Öë²ÖÃÖÔ ...(¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö)
ˆ¯ÖÃÖ³ÖÖ¬µÖõÖ: ¯ÖÖ×ÞÖ •Öß, ²Öî×šü‹ ... (¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö) †Ö¯Ö ²Öî×šü‹ ...(¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö) No more. ..(Interruptions).. Hon. Minister to reply. ..(Interruptions)..
ÁÖß ¹ý¦ü®ÖÖ¸üÖµÖÞÖ ¯ÖÖ×ÞÖ : ÃÖ¸ü *
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Hon. Minister, please reply. You answer whatever you can. ..(Interruptions).. Please sit down. ..(Interruptions).. Mr. Pani, don't say like this. ..(Interruptions).. Whatever Mr. Pani is saying will not go on record. ..(Interruptions)..
* Not recorded.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: Sir, maybe I fail to convey myself about the reason of promulgating the Ordinance, but I would like to reiterate the same point again. Any time, of course, the Government could have waited one more year to buy over the shares of Reserve Bank of India. There was no problem. But having taken that decision and having followed that procedure, they had the recommendations of Narsimhan Committee Report, the RBI helped and the process gone through. Had we waited, as it was said now, for a period beyond this, for instance if a bill were to be introduced now and then to be brought before the House, it could have been done. But what would that have entailed? An amount to the extent of Rs.35000 crores would have to be paid by the Government of India to the Reserve Bank and the Reserve Bank could have then transferred annual surplus only at the end of next year, that is, after 30th June, 2008. It means that for one year an amount of as much as Rs.35000 crores would have been held back..(Interruptions)..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): It is clear. It was earlier also explained. ..(Interruptions).. You are repeating. ..(Interruptions)..
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: The Government could have bought it. ..(Interruptions)..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: It was also earlier explained. ..(Interruptions).. You go to the next question. ..(Interruptions)..
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: The Reserve Bank of India would have returned that amount only next year. ..(Interruptions).. This is a huge amount that none of you would like to be held back. ..(Interruptions).. The other important point that Shrimati Brinda Karat referred to was regarding Micro-Finance Bill and some opposition thereto. Sir, in a democracy there is a particular process which we also follow. The Bills are deliberated at length in the Standing Committee after introduction here and that is precisely the case of this Micro-Finance Bill. This Bill is now before the Standing Committee and the recommendations of the Standing Committee would be given due respect by the Government and thereafter only final decision would be taken as to what we will do about it. Sir, the next question is relating to deposits in the Self Help Groups. Sir, the deposits in the Self Help Groups attract the rate of interest of 6 per cent by the banks on their different term deposits and that rate of interest on the savings bank is 3.5 per cent at the moment.
(Contd. by 3g/KSK)
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL (CONTD): Banks are lending to the Self-Help Groups at a rate of interest ranging between 10-12 per cent....(Interruptions). Sir, I think, you would permit me now to complete. Sir, it is not for the entire period of a year or so that the self-help groups take loan from the banks. At times, it is for very short period and, therefore, they feel that proper productive use of that amount has been made, maybe by lending amongst themselves, or for any other productive activity. As I have said earlier, Sir, over 29 lakh Self-Help Groups today are functioning in the country and they have made a tangible difference in their lives.
Sir, about outsourcing, a point was raised and I would like to reiterate most humbly...(Interruptions).
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: How much profit have the banks made?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): He has replied to your question...(Interruptions). It is up to the Minister to reply to a particular point or not. I cannot compel the Minister...(Interruptions). Please, sit down.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: Sir, banks are not permitted to outsource core functions. Now, which are these core functions? These are - management functions, planning, investment decisions, credit appraisals, etc. There is a clear embargo on the banks. No bank can outsource any of these functions. There are other ancillary matters on which the bank thinks that by outsourcing that function, really some efficiency is brought in. If they were to engage some experts for that, it would cost them more. For any application, IT or otherwise, if they feel that a particular work can be outsourced and they stand to gain in that process, I am sure, you would really not grudge on that.
Sir, there was a point made about Vidharbha district also. Hon. Member knows, it is not the banks which are responsible. Sir, it is the usurious loans which the people have raised from private moneylenders. And, the Government is making every effort in this direction. The Prime Minister's package for 31 districts is for everybody who has been impacted because of such loans....(Interruptions).
SHRI VIJAY J. DARDA: Sir, his reply is not correct.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: What has been waived....(Interruptions). ´ÖÆüÖê¤üµÖ, ‹êÃÖê ÛîúÃÖê “Ö»ÖêÝÖÖ, †ÝÖ¸ü ²ÖÖ¸ü-²ÖÖ¸ü ²Öß“Ö ´Öë Æüß ²ÖÖê»ÖŸÖê •ÖÖ‹ÓÝÖê… ´ÖÆüÖê¤üµÖ, ÛúÆüÖÓ interest waive Ûú¸ü®ÖÖ Æîü, ×ÛúÃÖ ŠúÞÖ ÛúÖê restructure Ûú¸ü®ÖÖ Æîü, ˆÃÖÛêú ²ÖÖ¤ü ˆ®ÖÛúÖê †Öî¸ü ŠúÞÖ ÛîúÃÖê ×¤üµÖÖ •ÖÖ ÃÖÛúŸÖÖ Æîü ŸÖÖ×Ûú ×±ú¸ü ¾ÖÆü †¯Ö®Öê •Öß¾Ö®Ö ÛúÖê ²ÖêÆüŸÖ¸ü ²Ö®ÖÖ®Öê Ûúß ÛúÖê×¿Ö¿Ö Ûú¸ü ÃÖÛê (¾µÖ¾Ö¬ÖÖ®Ö)…
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Please take your seat....(Interruptions). Let him finish. The Minister is not yielding.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: Sir, I am ready to reply. Let any hon. Member refer any point to me, I will send a detailed reply to him after this. Let him write to me. I will reply to him.
Sir, the other point was regarding giving job on compassionate grounds. In view of a decision of the Supreme Court, the banks had to discontinue the old practice of giving jobs on compassionate grounds. Now, in lieu of the compassionate grounds, the banks are giving ex-gratia compensation to the dependent people. They have a transparent formula, not a discriminatory formula. But, very recently, an amendment has been made in the model scheme, which is followed by different banks, that in certain cases, for instance, if a person dies resisting a bank robbery, resisting a dacoity, in some cases, banks will still consider giving a job on compassionate grounds. But, in all other cases, we will consider giving ex-gratia compensation for those people.
Finally, Sir, Shri Ekanath Thakur should not say that I have missed his point again. There is never any intention of the Government to legitimise any act which, we consider, does not fulfil the social objectives, or which works counter to the concept for which the public sector banks are there. Therefore, there is no question of legitimising any person charging higher rates of interest for certain people to be benefited otherwise.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Now, the question is:
That the Bill further to amend the State Bank of India Act, 1955, as passed by Lok Sabha, be taken into consideration.
The motion was adopted.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Now, we shall take up clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
Clauses 2-10 were added to the Bill.
Clause 1, the Enacting Formula and the Title were added to the Bill.
SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL: Sir, I beg to move:
That the Bill be returned.
The question was put and the motion was adopted.
(followed by 3h - gsp)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Now, we shall have further discussion on the situation arising out of heavy floods in various parts of the country and the relief measures undertaken by the Government, which was raised by Shri Kalraj Mishra on 14th August, 2007.
On 14th August, Shri Moinul Hassan had not concluded his speech. So, he can now proceed.
DISCUSSION ON SITUATION ARISING OUT OF FLOODS
IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE COUNTRY - CONTD.
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN (WEST BENGAL): Mr. Vice Chairman, Sir, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on this issue. Sir, actually, I have forgotten at which point I was stopped while participating in the debate on 14th of August. So, I am starting right from the beginning of my speech.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA) in the Chair.
Sir, actually, I was discussing about the flood situation in Kerala. Now, the situation has changed throughout the country. Sir, the Government submitted a report that ten States were flooded. But, at present, we can see that nearly fourteen States are flooded. I am coming to the flood situation in Kerala. In the first instance, primarily the estimated loss was to the tune of Rs. 1500 crores approximately. The affected people mainly included the agricultural labourers, plantation labourers and the fishermen. Many people have become jobless due to this situation. Sir, the Government of Kerala had requested to allot, at least, Rs. 635 crore in cash. As far as help in kind is concerned, the respective Ministry of the Government of Kerala had requested to allot 80,000 metric tonnes of rice and 20,000 metric tonnes of sugar at subsidised rates as an urgent measure to help them to face the calamity. Sir, one Central Team visited the State of Kerala, and, it was reported in a newspaper -- I was very astonished to see it -- that nearly Rs. 40 lakhs were spent for the tour programme of the Central Team but nothing additional assistance was granted for those who were affected by floods in the State of Kerala. Sir, I know that the Central Team is very much required to assess the situation but when lakhs and crores of people are suffering due to floods, what is the problem to grant additional assistance to the States.
Sir, on behalf of the State of Kerala, I demand that adequate measures should be taken immediately to save the common people of Kerala, the common citizens of our country, who are suffering due to the natural calamity being faced by the State of Kerala.
Now, Sir, I would also like to mention about the State of Bihar. Yesterday, I came to know that the death toll had reached up to 325. Sir, at present, Bihar is one of the worst affected States of our country. I am not going into the details of the condition of Bihar now. Many previous speakers have mentioned about it. But, I would like to mention here that under the leadership of Smt. Brinda Karat, two Members of our Party, who are Members of Parliament, visited Bihar. They extensively toured throughout the State, and, after that, they submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister regarding the flood situation in Bihar and the relief work that is very much required at present.
(Contd. by sk-3j)
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN (CONTD.): Sir, in Bihar, people are living on the embankment. Women and children are suffering a lot. What a terrible situation going on in Bihar!
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA): Mr. Hassan, how much more time will you take?
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: I have just started, Sir. I have taken 15 minutes.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: But, you have been allotted only five minutes.
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: I do not know that, Sir.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: You know it. But you can take your time. Don't say that you don't know.
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: Thank you, Sir, for being generous towards me.
No sufficient relief work is going on in Bihar. My specific demand is, please face the people, please face the natural calamity and assist the Government of Bihar, not to some extent, but assist them fully. I would like to cite here only one example of the Madhubani district. It is the worst affected district. It is a famous place for Madhubani paintings. When our team went there, it was actually not 'surrounded' by water; the appropriate word would be, it was 'engulfed' by water. People are forced to do paintings, because there is no other means of livelihood. So, such relief condition is going on in Bihar. I am again requesting the Government to take into account the situation and face the natural calamity which is going on in Bihar as well as in other parts of the 14 States of the country. So far as West Bengal is concerned, three-fourth districts are in a very distressed condition. Over 200 people have already died. Side-by-side floods, river bank erosion problem is also there in my district, Murshidabad, in Malda in north Bengal and in other parts of the States. We are talking about erosion problems throughout the year, but it is not receiving any serious attention on behalf of the Government of India. I again raise the issue of floods as well as the problem of river bank erosion.
So far as North Eastern Region is concerned, I came to know through some report that out of 60 years of independence, 59 times floods have occurred in North Eastern Region, particularly in Assam. What is the planning of the Government of India regarding Assam? I remember that in 2004, a committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Central Water Commission. The Committee was formed in August 2004 and they submitted a report in December 2004. A lot of discussion took place regarding the recommendations of the Committee. They suggested different types of schemes, one short-term and one long-term. But, nothing has been done in Assam or the neighbouring States so far. I would like to know from the hon. Minister and the Government what has been done with regard to the recommendations of the Committee which was formed and which submitted its report in August 2004 and December 2004 respectively. Our party and our delegation submitted a memorandum before the hon. Prime Minister. We have demanded for foodgrains to the affected people for four months. I came to know yesterday through a newspaper that 3 lakh tonnes of foodgrains were provided to Bihar. It is a good sign. But, our demand is to give it further for four months. Our second demand is to build a flood centre for the river area so that when flood comes, people can get shelter in that particular area. It is also a demand of different States which are flood-prone. Thirdly, this time there is a huge shortage of kerosene oil in the rural areas. (Contd. by 3k-ysr)
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN (CONTD.): Adequate kerosene supply should be continued.
My fourth point is that under the NREG Act, work to construct roads and building houses should be intensified.
My fifth proposal is that since severe crop damage is taking place, the insurance claims should be settled shortly. People should be given quality seeds as early as possible, so that they can take next cultivation. These are the short-term measures that the Government should take in general.
My next point is that the flood control measures should be reviewed. Maintenance of embankment should be done. People are living there for many years. What is happening near riverbeds and embankments? Rivers are not in a position to carry more water. If it continues raining, it will flood every area.
Maintenance of embankment is very necessary. In this relation, I would like to say that today in the Question Hour there was a question on dredging. Yesterday, we discussed the Inland Vessels (Amendment) Bill, 2005. Mr. Ahluwalia is here. He also raised the issue of dredging. Dredging is one of the important subjects. Floods also.
Today, in the Question Hour, there was a question on climate change. We are talking about global warming. We must consider why the climate is changing. Why is it going on? Another question is that an international treaty is there involving India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. We must reconsider all these things. What is needed is desiltation of the major north Indian rivers like the Ganga. It is very much required today. The quantum of water flow to riverbed is constantly declining. It is a trend that we are seeing in West Bengal and also in other parts of the country.
Sir, many times, we talk about relief work. I have seen the report of the CAG. It is related to Maharashtra. In 2005, the CAG reported that out of the total relief work, only 25 per cent goes to the ultimate beneficiary. Next year, in 2006, the situation became a little bit better. It said that 43 per cent of the total relief sanctioned both by the Centre and the State reached the ultimate beneficiaries. That is what is going on. So who will take care of it? Monitoring is one of the best methods. On the ground level, we should provide a monitoring system. Otherwise, ultimate beneficiary will not get the relief we are talking about.
I have had an opportunity to hear Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in one meeting. He has said that if we grant one rupee in Delhi, only 14 paise reach the ultimate people, the poorest of the poor. It is also reflected in the CAG Report. It is reflected everywhere.
SHRI JANARDHANA POOJARY: Sir, I was there. It was 17 paise.
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: There is not much difference between 14, 15 and 17. But ultimately people are the loser. (Contd. by VKK/3L)
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN (CONTD.): It is a natural calamity which will be faced by the Government of India and the State Governments together. It is needless to say. I will raise one question at the end of my speech. The National Disaster Management Authority has been formed. But, my observation is further strengthened that neither it's mandate nor the resource allocation has been decided so far. So, I would like to request that it is a tragic incident every year in our country. People are suffering from floods, erosion, hailstorms, etc. So, what are we doing? We are the people's representatives. We are coming here representing lakhs of people. We have some commitment to the people. We should do something, at least, to save our beloved countrymen, those who have lost their valuable lives in different parts of the country. With these words, I conclude. Thank you. (Ends)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA): Thank you. Now, Shri C. Perumal. Technically you have six minutes, but, the kind of discussion that we are having, we will be a bit liberal. (Interruptions) I said that you have six minutes, but feel easy. Cover more points if you can. (Interruptions)
SHRI C. PERUMAL (TAMIL NADU): Thank you, Sir. On behalf of the AIADMK Party, I rise to participate in the debate on the flood situation in the country. Floods cause annual destruction and also generate annual discussion in Parliament. Maybe, if floods are effectively controlled, Parliament would be dried up of discussion on one of its pet subjects.
Sir, we may proudly say that our river valleys were cradles of civilization, but, today I lament that they have become graves of civilization. The loss of human lives, the loss of cattle and other living beings and the loss due to destruction of crops and property on account of perennial floods over the past 60 years of independent India, particularly our persistent failure to considerably minimize the damage due to floods, are serious blots on our national pride. On the one hand, we claim to become super power in another dozen of years, and on the other hand, the colossal damage caused by floods, continues unabated. There seems to be no perspective planning, if not to conquer, at least, to control floods.
Floods stand out from earthquakes and Tsunami because floods come with proper notice. Natural disasters which strike mankind without notice should certainly be called natural calamities. Floods, except the flash floods in urban areas, strike people after it swells the rivers steadily. We know the season, we know the extent of rainfall and we also know when the danger marks are crossed. Thus, floods come to us with notice and we can easily judge, in advance, the damage it can cause. I would therefore like to put floods in the category of incidents which may be called "Annual Avoidable National Damages".
It is a national shame that we continue to lose lives and property due to floods with no significant control on the damage. It is a clear demonstration of our under development. Floods will come, quietly take away the lives of people and cattle, wash away property and crops, Government will make an assessment, relief will be provided, some deaths due to drowning will be prevented by pressing the Army into action -- these are routinely happening. We are yet to develop a long-term policy for substantially minimizing the loss of lives, crops and property. It is high time that such a policy is framed together by scientists, researchers, administrators and managerial experts. Parliament should discuss it and put a minimum credible structure in place to avoid the annual affair of death and destruction caused by floods.
This year's floods have been the worst in the recent memory. Floods this year have claimed 1258 lives, displaced 31 million people across 20 States and Union Territories, damaged property worth Rs.12.68 billion, destroyed 68,160 livestock, affected 2.1 million hectares of crops, damaged 5,92,427 houses and completely destroyed 1,31,754 dwelling units.
(Contd. by RSS/3M)
SHRI C. PERUMAL (CONTD.): The Government has every fact and figure in this regard. Here, I would like to assail the Government's attitude of giving a political angle, sometimes, to relief measures. If there is a Government of the same party in the State as at the Centre, then the Centre, without hassles, would rush relief, and its extent would be more than what the State has asked. If it is a Government of the opposite party, the response will be lukewarm, relief would move from the Centre at snail's pace, that too, in an order far less than what the State has demanded. This condemnable attitude of the Central Government requires to be amended with more objectivity in assessment of damage and provision of relief. When floods come, political parties should refrain from fishing in troubled waters. The man who dies in a ruling party's State and the man who dies in the opposition-ruled State has only one life, and that too, of the same value. The Central Government should never see the death and destruction caused by floods through the political prism.
In order to build objectivity in the assessment of damage and provision of relief, and to avoid bureaucratic delay, there should be well settled standard operations procedure against damages caused by floods....(Interruptions)...
SHRI R. SHUNMUGASUNDARAM: Can he read from the verbatim text?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA): Take it easy. Don't be that technical...(Interruptions)... He is trying to pull your legs. Go ahead.
SHRI C. PERUMAL: We have got interpretors for all the languages except Tamil...(Interruptions)... No, no. The House has to arrange Tamil interpretor. I can raise a discussion. All the languages are protected except Tamil. What is the reason?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA): Mr. Perumal, you are fully protected. Have I told you anything? You go ahead.
SHRI C. PERUMAL: The Centre and the States must evolve a cooperative mechanism to deal with floods on long-term basis. Villages must be empowered even by amendment of the Eleventh and Twelfth Schedules of the Constitution to have both financial and strategic powers and to have physical infrastructure ready for tackling damages caused by floods. The statistics relating to village population, the crops in the fields, the number of cattle and other such vital parameters essential for assessing damage caused by floods are always available with the local administrative machinery. The extent of men, cattle and crops lost must be a matter of quick calculation by the local political administration like panchayats. The cost of damages, as worked out by the village bodies, must be almost final. The States must have powers to divert unspent funds from other heads to relief measures on an immediate basis, which is the first phase of providing money to panchayats to ameliorate the sufferings of the people caused by floods. The final phase is the release of money to cover the exact cost of damages calculated on the basis of per capita cost of human life and cattle lost and per acre of crops of various varieties destroyed. The cost may be shared on 20:80 basis by the States and Centre. For this purpose, it should be mandatory for all States and the Centre to reserve 5 per cent of the budget for meeting such costs.
On a long-term basis, both the Centre and the States must apply their energies to geo-physical solutions. We must specially construct a network of canals to spread out swelling waters from the rivers both, for storing rain waters and for mitigating the rising rivers. In this connection, I would like this House to recall the visionary scheme of Puratchi Thalaivi in making it compulsory for individuals and urban and rural planners to have the rain water harvesting structures in every dwelling unit with the multiple objectives of storing rain water for drinking purposes, reducing the wastage of waters and lowering the impact of floods. The scheme was acclaimed by the whole world, and I urge upon this Government to enforce a National Scheme of Rain Water Harvesting structure in each and every existing as well as future houses all over the country and name the National Scheme after Purtachi Thalaivi as a minimum honour to her bold and meaningful initiative in Tamil Nadu.
(contd. by 3n)
SHRI C. PERUMAL (CONTD.): Sir, dedicated village guard forces must be raised to undertake this construction work of special canal network to suck in the excess river waters from the rivers during rainy seasons. It may be taken up under the National Rural Employment Programme. Habitations routinely inundated by rivers must be identified and the people must have two alternative habitats, one during non-flood seasons and another, a very restricted makeshift arrangement for stay with rationed food, during flood seasons. The local administrative machinery must compulsorily shift people from their regular habitats to these makeshift arrangements during those particular months, whether floods come or not. It should be a standard operating procedure. Habitations in routinely flood-affected areas should be slowly discouraged. Plantations and crops suitable for non-flood seasons must be raised in fields in routinely flood endangered areas to minimise the damage caused by floods to crops.
The villages in areas routinely affected by floods must be equipped with necessary physical infrastructure like boats, life-saving vests etc., to save people and cattle from being drowned and destroyed by floods. The designs of housing in these areas should be modified in such a way that houses are built a few feet above ground level to survive waters of reasonable depth inundating them, besides the alternative make-shift arrangements in place for flooding seasons. As we have earthquake resistant houses, we must also have flood-surviving houses.
As far as the destruction caused by flash floods in urban areas is concerned, we need to have a key component of preventing flash floods as vital part of our Master Plans. It is, again, a shame that in highly developed cities we lose lives to floods. It may happen in the United Kingdom and the United States in the same way, but that is no solace for our suffering. Let our urban planning, with our best brains, guide these nations too, to minimise the damage caused by flash floods in mega cities. Let our urban planners and researchers be the pioneers of a city planning which averts the destructive effects of flash floods.
What we require, therefore, is a long-term strategy to save human lives, cattle, crops and property from continuous annual destruction by floods. We are not conquering nature, but we should hope to regulate it to our fullest advantage. Our nation, a few days back, marched into the 60th year of our freedom, but not without the fear of floods. Let us resolve to enslave our rivers to our advantage and free the people from the fear of floods with freedom, both for men and nature. Nature may be aimless but men have aim, and that aim is to plan to control floods. Should we do that or should we continue to perish, is the question that must be answered immediately. Thank you, Sir.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA): Hon. Members, it is 5 o'clock. I have to take the sense of the House. Can we continue because this is an important discussion?
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SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: Sir, I am sitting here. ...(Interruptions)...
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SHRI R. SHUNMUGASUNDARAM: The next day. ...(Interruptions)...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: What did you say?
SHRI R. SHUNMUGASUNDARAM: The next day we can have it.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: So, we close now.
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SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: Sir, it is a very important issue.
ˆ¯ÖÃÖ³ÖÖ¬µÖõÖ : ”ûÆü ²Ö•Öê ŸÖÛú ŸÖÖê “Ö»ÖÖµÖÖ •ÖÖ‹? Let the House do some work also.
SHRI MOINUL HASSAN: We can continue, Sir.
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SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI: How many speakers are more?
...(Interruptions)... Can it be over today?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: No; it can't be over even if we continue till mid night.
SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI: Today, you put unreasonable restrictions on the time of speakers. ...(Interruptions)...
(Followed by TMV/3o)