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Tsunami relief fund misused, alleges Rajasthan MLAs

Special Correspondent

"Only seven of the 51 works completed in Tamil Nadu districts"

JAIPUR: Two Congress MLAs of Rajasthan on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government in the State of misusing a major portion of the Rs. 19 crore collected for providing relief to victims of tsunami in Tamil Nadu and completing only seven of the 51 works taken up with much fanfare by "adopting'' three affected districts.

Two years after the tsunami, the State Government spent only Rs. 9.40 crore on construction works in Cuddalore, Villupuram and Kancheepuram districts, while it wasted a significant portion of the tsunami funds totalling Rs. 19 crore towards travel and other allowances to officers sent to the sites.

The MLAs, Chandrashekhar Baid and Harimohan Sharma, said in a statement here that the information obtained from the State Government in the Assembly and through the Right to Information Act had revealed that the funds collected from the people and through deduction in the Government employees' salary were not transferred to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for more than six months.

"The delay led to the misuse of tsunami funds for general official expenditure and loss of interest which is normally added to the principal amount to make the funds larger," said Dr. Baid. He said the task of construction of buildings was handed over to public sector Avas Vikas Limited, which had failed to complete the majority of works so far.

Only seven works relating to the construction of a dormitory, fish drawing yards and compound walls had been completed in Devanampattinam, Samiyarpettai, Pudukuppam and Killai in Cuddalore district, while none of the 29 works launched in Villupuram and Kancheepuram was completed.

Dr. Baid said the "insensitivity" of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to the plight of tsunami victims was evident from the fact that she had not visited any of the sites of relief and construction even once during her many trips to Tamil Nadu during the last two years. "Ms. Raje only went to a place five km from Mamallapuram on September 18, 2005 for formal inauguration and left a plaque in a school,'' he said.

Both Dr. Baid and Mr. Sharma affirmed that the State Government's indifferent attitude towards the sufferers of an enormous natural disaster not only amounted to their humiliation, but was also an affront to the people of Rajasthan who had risen to the occasion and made contribution of their hard-earned money.

Apology sought

The MLAs demanded that Ms. Raje apologise to the people of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan for the misuse of relief funds and take steps for early completion of works launched in the three districts.

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