A month later, Uttarakhand relief down to a trickle

Dehradun/New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The initial rush of relief material for Uttarakhand has come down to a trickle more than a month after the rain-flood tragedy, leaving NGOs wondering how to provide for thousands of locals stranded in the remote villages of Kedarnath and other affected areas.

The few NGOs working on the ground and supplying relief material say that after a month, the aid and donations have begun to dwindle.

"We forget easily. Along with the dying wave of sympathy, the funds for those affected are also dwindling. The relief material and funds are trickling down. There are still people who don't even have matchboxes to light their stoves; people have lost earning members in their families; some have lost their entire home and life savings in the floods; others lost their means of livelihood. They need help," Avenash Datta, country head (Programmes), HelpAge India, told IANS.

According to the NGOs, the relief material with them can last only till July 25, and after that many households will run out of dry rations and other essentials like match boxes to light stoves.

Bhupendra Lal, 35, his wife and two children were surviving on rain water for three days in a village in Tehri, until a bag of relief material brought by a volunteer reached them. Thousands of flash-flood survivors like Lal's family who braved nature's fury and are cut off from the mainland are now at the mercy of intermittent relief.

The NGOs are trying hard to reach remote and inaccessible villages for carrying out relief work. They say in the initial few weeks after the June 17 tragedy there was a "contest" between political parties and voluntary organisations in sending relief material, which was not streamlined in a systematic manner, as a result of which hundreds of needy people did not receive aid.

"Though our country is prone to disaster, we are not prepared. We don't think, and there is no mechanism or control room to direct relief. A centre or hub is necessary in Dehradun or Rishikesh to unload all the relief materials and then distribute it in a systematic manner; which would then be taken in smaller vehicles to remote areas and from there be passed on to volunteers who can reach the survivors," Anshu Gupta, founder director of NGO Goonj, told IANS.

Goonj has set up hubs in Guptkashi and Uttarkashi, from where trucks loaded with relief material travel up to a point. The aid is then loaded on to smaller vehicles that travel till the last motorable stretch before volunteers take up the responsibility, carrying it on their backs for four to five kilometres in mountainous terrain with the help of locals and gram pradhans (village heads) to reach the affected villagers.

"We believe in a long-term commitment. The initial few days was the rescue part and even then, tourists and pilgrims were the focus. The locals' livelihood which is dependent on pilgrims and tourism has been hit 100 percent. They need long-term care," Gupta said.

He also urged the people to think about others' sensitivities before donating their old discarded and used clothes and other household stuff, saying that disaster relief is not a place that one should use to get rid of discarded goods.

"We have received piles of old undergarments and dirty mattresses and old clothes. People should think before sending such stuff. Just because people are stuck in a disaster doesn't mean that they can wear old clothes and use substandard things," Gupta pointed out.

He added that they had enough biscuit packets and the incessant rains had led to a good supply of drinking water with the abundant fresh water streams. So waterbottles are not needed as a relief material.

Talking about the plight of the elderly, Help Age India said in many villages the elderly were left behind when people fled the deluge, especially in Kalimath near Kedarnath.

Save the Children, another NGO, is planning to create child-friendly spaces in the state as incidents of trafficking are high. In these places, the scores of children stranded in the floods can be safely left with trained caregivers.

"The focus is right now shifting from tourists and pilgrims to the local communities. The devastation is huge; the rehabilitation and relief work should be proper and focussed. Due to incessant rains, the small bridges which connect villages have collapsed. It will be tough to reach the villagers who are cut off, but we will continue our rehabilitation work," Devendra Tak, national manager, Save the Children, told IANS.

The essential relief material needed by the NGOs include saris, clothes, blankets, tarpaulin sheets, woollens, dry rations (sugar, wheat powder, rice, spices, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, milk powder), feeding bottles, buckets, cooking pans, washing soap, detergent powder and water purifier.

Those wishing to contribute can seek information at the websites of goonj.org, savethechildrenindia.org, and helpageindia.org.

(Prathiba Raju can be reached at prathiba.r@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Dwayne Bravo is set to be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a shoulder problem. Bravo sustained the injury when attempting a catch on the boundary… More »