By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre has released the first instalment, Rs 8,873.6 crore, of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) in advance to the states in view of the continuing COVID-19 surge. Half of the amount, i.e. Rs 4,436 crore can be used for COVID-19 containment measures, including setting up of hospitals and oxygen generation units.
The Union Home Ministry said as a special dispensation, the Department of Expenditure, under the Ministry of Finance, has released the amount in advance of the normal schedule at its recommendation. An amount of Rs 8,873.6 crore has been released to the states, an official statement said.
Normally, the first instalment of the SDRF is released in June according to the recommendations of the Finance Commission, the ministry said, in a statement. However, in relaxation of the normal procedure, not only has the release of the SDRF been advanced but the amount has also been released without waiting for the utilisation certificate of the amount provided to the states in the last financial year.
Of the total amount released by the Centre, the worst affected states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala will get Rs 1,288.80 crore, Rs 728 crore, 773.20 crore, 529.60 crore, 316.40 crore and Rs 125.60 crore respectively.
Of the total amount, following sums would be released to Haryana (Rs 196.40 crore), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 163.60 crore), Jharkhand (Rs 227.20 crore), Odisha (Rs 641.60 crore), Punjab (Rs 198 crore), Rajasthan (Rs 592.40 crore), Telangana (Rs 179. 60), Tamil Nadu (Rs 408 crore), Uttarakhand (Rs 374.80 crore) and West Bengal (Rs 404.40 crore).
The funds from the SDRF may be used by the states for meeting the cost of oxygen generation and storage plants in hospitals, ventilators, air purifiers, strengthening ambulance services, COVID-19 hospitals, COVID care centres, etc.