Centre allows states to spend up to 50% from SDRF on Covid relief

The Union home ministry has allowed states to spend up to 50 per cent money from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, up from the existing limit of 35 per cent, said officials. The permission applies to quarantine, sample collection and screening facilities.

The move came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told chief ministers of the seven worst affected states on Wednesday that the Centre has increased the states’ “limit to spend the SDRF to boost infrastructure to fight the pandemic”.

In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, the home ministry said it has partially modified the list of items and norms of assistance for containment measures of Covid-19 eligible from SDRF by way of a special one-time dispensation with the overall capping of 50 per cent for the financial year 2020-21.

Provision for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc., for people affected and sheltered in quarantine camps (other than home quarantine) or for cluster containment operations will be covered under the modified norms.

Cost of consumables for sample collection, support for checking screening and contact tracing, procurement of essential equipment and laboratories for response to Covid-19, cost of setting up additional testing laboratories within the government and the cost of consumables and testing kit will be allowed under the new norms.

In addition, cost of personal protection equipment for healthcare, municipal, police and fire authorities, cost of thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers, oxygen generation and storage plant in hospitals, strengthening ambulance services for transport of patients, setting up containment zones, Covid-19 hospitals and care centres, and consumables in the government hospitals, will also be covered.

State executive committees, headed by chief secretaries concerned, shall ensure overall oversight mechanism so that no duplication takes place with reference to other government schemes, the home ministry said in its communication. Any amount spent by the state for Covid-19 over and above the ceiling would be borne out of the resources of the state government and not from the SDRF, it said.

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