Uttarakhand relief cheques are peanuts

Flood victims get as little as Rs 150 compensation for cattle and property losses

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Yahoo India News | Photo by Goonj
Mon 15 Jul, 2013 11:30 AM IST

NEW DELHI: A tragedy has visited Uttarakhand a little over three months after heavy rainfall triggered disaster across the Himalayan state. The latest tragedy is completely man-made and comes in the form of compensation cheques worth a few hundred rupees each that have been handed out by the government to victims and survivors of the mid-June catastrophe.
For hundreds of victims who thought the worst was over after the Himalayan deluge that washed away their homes and loved ones, these cheques amount to insult rather than help. Bageshwar district in the eastern Kumaon region of Uttarakhand bounded on the west and northwest by Chamoli District, which faced massive destruction, is sulking in despair. Data released by the Information and Public Relations Department of the Uttarakhand government for Bageshwar shows that Rs 2,27,38,756 has been distributed to the victims till date.

On the ground, it doesn’t add up. A village in district Bageshwar called Kanda has received only Rs 8,680 as compensation after landslides left cattle, farms and houses damaged. Many residents lost their entire families.

The details of cheque numbers and amount given to at least 25 farmers are available with M AIL TODAY, and make for pretty sorry reading.

A farmer called Trilok Singh has got the highest amount of Rs 789, while the least amount of money— Rs 150 each—has been given to farmers Shyam Singh and Fakir Singh. Other like Bahadur Singh and Aan Singh who have got Rs 187 and Rs 244 respectively would perhaps feel ashamed to accept these cheques and deposit them in their bank accounts.

According to the disaster management centre at Bageshwar, around 2.060 hectares land was damaged, 261 cattle died and at least 390 people of 74 families in 46 villages were severely affected. The state government had fixed the compensation amount at Rs 5 lakh for a death and Rs 1 lakh for people whose houses and farms were damaged.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has recently said that Rs 150 crore of relief has been distributed through cheques. “UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised to help the state overcome the losses caused due to the disaster.

The state government is getting all possible help from the Union Government,” he had said.

Now, the state government has begun attracting flak from all around. Senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt said, “The Uttarakhand government failed to handle the disaster and issue like rehabilitation and relief after the calamity.

The Bahuguna government is a total failure. Despite this, it has wasted over Rs 75 crore in advertisement campaigns.” According to the state government’s estimates, over 6,000 persons died in the floods and a larger number were rendered homeless and jobless. Help poured in from across the country. From Bollywood celebrities to corporate houses to government officials, everyone chipped in with whatever they could to help the flood-hit recover from their losses.

People are still contributing from their income for the victims, but that help does not seem to have reached the right destination.

Recently, Dr Agarwal Hospitals along with the Ramakrishna- Vivekananda International Foundation (RVKIF) and Sri Sringeri Sharada Institute of Management (Sri SIM) donated services and equipment worth Rs 30 lakh by way of injections, medicines, eyeglasses, etc. “The farmers are in really a bad shape. They are depressed and suffering from ailments.

The government should take proper care of the disaster-hit victims. We were awestruck looking at the condition,” said Dr Sunita Rana, Dr Agarwal hospital, Gene Research Foundation.

State government had fixed ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for a death and Rs 1 lakh for those whose houses & farms were damaged.

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