A controversy has triggered over Kerala getting a tiny sum as part of the first installment of the State Disaster Response Mitigation Fund (SDRMF) despite the state reporting a large numbers of coronavirus cases. But the allegation that the union government is biased seems to be unfounded since the allocations made were not arbitrary. They were as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission.
The 15th Finance Commission has recommended an allocation (by the Centre) of Rs 314 crore to Kerala for 2020-21, half of which has been released by the Union government. Hence, Kerala has received Rs 157 crore in the first installment. There was outrage in many quarters that even smaller states like Himachal Pradesh has received a higher amount (Rs 204.50 crore) as part of SDRF.
SDRF allocation has been calculated based on three-four major factors - the expenditures incurred by states on disaster management, area, population and risk profile of individual states - to arrive at the final allocation for each state.
For calculating the figures related to expenditure on disaster relief, the states' expenditure booked for the past seven years (2011-12 to 2017-18) has been considered. Expenditure incurred in the past has a 70 per cent weightage, while area and population has 15 per cent each.
The risk profile is based on Disaster Risk Index, which is developed by assigning scores to the probability of events like earthquake, flood, cyclone, drought, etc striking states and the extent of their vulnerability.
Area, population and risk profile are new factors that are being considered for calculation of state allocations by the 15th Finance Commission. In the previous Finance Commission, per capita GDP and expenditure incurred used to be the factors for calculating SDRMF allocations.
The union and state governments both contribute to the SDRMF corpus, with centre contributing 75 per cent and states 25 per cent towards the fund for general states. For North-East and Himalayan states, the ration is 90:10.
The total size of the SDRF for 2020-21 is Rs 28,983 crore with centre contributing Rs 22,184 crore and the states Rs 6,799 crore.
As per 15th Finance Commission calculations, Maharashtra receives the biggest share in the centre's contribution with Rs 3,222 crore, followed by UP (Rs 1,933 crore) and MP (Rs 1,820 crore) and Odisha (Rs 1,604 crore).
The centre has released half of its share - Rs 11,092 crore - in first installment to 28 states.
The responsibility of disaster risk funding is shared between the states and the union government. The states incur most of the disaster-related expenditure through their State Disaster Response Mitigation Funds (SDRMF) and these funds could be augmented and replenished through the National Disaster Response Mitigation Fund (NDRF).