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`Aid for tsunami-hit a matter of right'

By Our Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE, FEB. 4. The newly-created organisation, Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation — Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, has said that the affected people should be provided relief and rehabilitation "as a matter of right and not as a sympathetic gesture."

The people suffered due to "the complacency of the Central Government" that had failed to warn them in time, even though it had received an alert soon after a massive earthquake occurred in Indonesia, said Henri Tiphagne of People's Watch, who is also a State convenor of the organisation.

Representatives meet

The representatives of the affected people met here on Friday to ascertain whether all the relief measures promised in a series of government orders were being fulfilled. If there were lapses, the organisation would inform the authorities.

The authorities proposed to conduct similar exercises at Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Nagapattinam and Chennai.

At the meeting, it was decided that the State should put in place a grievance redressal mechanism.It also called upon the Government to issue "relief and rehabilitation identity cards" so that false claims would be eliminated. The meeting also sought the publication of the relief assessment lists. These should be put up at the Collectorate and all the panchayat offices for ready reference.

It urged the Government to declare all the missing persons dead and sanction the compensation.

The students of the tsunami-affected areas studying in schools located in non-affected areas should be allowed to sit for the separate public examinations.

Free legal aid

Earlier, Mr. Tiphagne told The Hindu that the organisation would create a panel of senior advocates to render free legal assistance to the affected. The panel would take up issues related to the issuance of certificates and documents, inheritance problems, matrimonial disputes, claims to insurance and bank accounts.

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