New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) A Parliamentary panel Tuesday suggested a comprehensive insurance coverage to all properties located in a disaster prone area and claims be settled in a fast-track mode.

The country has become all the more vulnerable in recent years to floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches etc. due to factors such as climate change, deforestation, encroachments etc. our country’s geo-climatic conditions as well as its high degree of socio-economic vulnerability makes it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the panel noted in its report.

Out of 36 States and Union Territories, 27 of them are disaster-prone, the Standing Committee on Finance said in its report presented in Parliament said.

The panel headed by senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily studied the recent devastating cyclone or floods or landslides in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala and the financial constraints faced by the affected states in meeting their relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction expenditure.

The Committee believe that any investment on mitigation and prevention of disaster risk will go a long way in building the capacity for significantly reducing expenditure on relief and disaster response.

“Towards this end, the Committee desire that comprehensive insurance coverage should be provided to all the properties (including public properties) located in the disaster prone area / zone and all insurance claims including crop insurance should be settled in a fast-track mode,” it said.

In view of the diversity in geographical, social and economic factors across different regions in the country, the report said, a flexible and pragmatic approach should be adopted towards relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“Further, provision should be made for immediate/automatic release of advance amount on adhoc basis from NDRF in cases of natural disasters of “rare severity” so as to enable the affected states to take up immediate relief work, pending the visit of the central team and completion of other procedures. Safeguards may however be provided to ensure that the funds made available are well utilised,” it said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.