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EC clarifies on drought relief

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, MARCH 14. The Election Commission has clarified that the Government can continue drought relief works in the areas that have been declared `drought affected' prior to the announcement of elections on February 29.

These works have to be done within the parameters laid down under the Calamity Relief Fund of the Central Government. New areas can be added to the existing `drought-affected' list only with the concurrence of the Election Commission.

In its directive, a copy of which was released to the press here on Sunday, the Commission lists provision of drinking water by way of water tankers, digging of borewells and dug wells, provision of rice and wheat at prescribed rates for distribution among the destitute and provision of fodder to cattle as relief measures which had been approved.

New works on wage employment (Food-for-work etc.) can also be taken up where such works had already been completed and new work needs to be provided.

The Election Commission directive also made it clear that no Minister or political functionary can be associated with these drought relief operations in any capacity during the time that the model code of conduct was in force. All relief work should be taken up by the division, district or sub-district administration without involving elected representatives or non-officials at any level.

The Commission noted that these clarifications on the modalities of implementing drought relief work had been issued after taking into account all relevant factors. Various State Governments have asked the Commission to clarify these modalities, since the earlier directive of the Commission to stop all sanctioned works had raised questions about drought relief works too.

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