HYDERABAD- Ten days after Andhra Pradesh was ravaged by the worst floods in its history, the relief and rehabilitation work being set in motion
by the state government and the district administrations can at best be called chaotic. As a result, many victims are still to get either food, fuel or clothing. What has compounded problems is the tardy effort by civil society organisations, most of whom are content with making small contributions in cash to the CM’s relief fund.
Chief minister K Rosaiah, who undertook a visit of Kurnool and Guntur districts on Monday, continued to face the wrath of the flood victims who charged the state with displaying complete apathy to their plight. “When we distributed relief at some places on Monday, we realised that we were the first to turn up there to aid the flood victims,” a member of an NGO told TOI.
The chaos has been aggravated by the fact that various government agencies are working at cross-purposes due to the relief material being siphoned off before it could reach the victims. Civil supplies commissioner Sanjay Jaju, who is the nodal officer overseeing the relief, told TOI on Monday that government agencies had already distributed 10,000 tonnes of rice, 10,000 kilo litres of kerosene, 228 quintals of red gram, and 12,500 litres of palmolein to the victims so far.
“Each affected family is being given 20 kilos of rice and five litres of kerosene per month. We have enough stocks to look after the needs of about 10 lakh affected people for the next three months,” Jaju said. But sources said that these were paper transfers. Moreover, state disaster management committee officials claimed that the relief material will be sufficient only for five lakh people. But what is of concern is the fact that the rice and kerosene are not reaching the victims in many instances. “In Kurnool and Krishna districts, officials distributing relief are taking the material from the government depots but pocketing it midway. In Krishna, there is already a shortage of rice,” one district official said.
That there is no coordination whatsoever between the various government agencies was made clear by the fact that almost a week after the chief minister announced that rice at Rs 16 a kilo would be distributed to the victims from special counters set up at various places, no such centre has come up. “I have not got any communication to that effect,” Jaju said when asked about the distribution centres.
This being the plight with regard to the official relief distribution machinery, what appears to be providing some succour - albeit in a limited way - to the victims is the presence of voluntary agencies at many of the affected areas. “While some gave us used clothes, it’s only because of them that we have received some food and other material so far,” said a flood victim from Alampur in Kurnool district.
“We are facing problems too because when we are taking relief materials we do not know which agency to hand it over to. As a result relief materials are getting dumped and is proving to be of no use, “ said Harish Chandra Prasad, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) chief for Andhra Pradesh. “That feeling of kinship, the feeling that my brother is in trouble and I must do everything that I can to help him in this hour of crisis is conspicuous by its absence,” points an NGO representative who worked in other parts of the country.