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‘Mechanical' response angers flood-hit people in many places

B.S. Satish Kumar

Response from government machinery has been slack from the beginning


Lacunae in delivery system hits rehabilitation

Government has spent only Rs. 455 cr. so far




BANGALORE: Thousands of flood affected people in the 14 districts of northern Karnataka, who are agonisingly waiting in the tin-roofed temporary shelters since October 2009 to be rehabilitated into permanent housing, are angered by the alleged “mechanical” response of the government machinery towards their serious plight right from the days when the tragedy struck them.

The government had taken a long time to provide even temporary accommodation to flood victims who had fled empty-handed in whatever clothes they were wearing when the five major rivers of northern Karnataka, flooded their villages located on the banks. Then there were allegations that the survey conducted to assess the damage to houses and crop losses was not proper in several villages.

For instance, residents of Muttalgeri village in Bagalkot district had alleged that the village accountant had surveyed about 1,000 houses in and around their village within a record time of six hours to assess the damage due to floods. In the same village, the crop losses were assessed by officials sitting in the panchayat office without visiting the fields, they alleged.

There is a feeling that the lacunae in the delivery mechanism in this backward region too has come in the way of quick rehabilitation. In fact, poor delivery mechanisms, official apathy and lack of infrastructure have historically plagued this region of economic and social backwardness. One would suspect if the fact that the flood-affected people are helpless and unable to bring pressure on the government as a majority of them are poor farm labourers or marginal farmers is the reason for the delay in their rehabilitation?

Meanwhile, the government and the ruling party have defended the delay in completion of the Aasare houses by pointing out that it is an enormous rehabilitation project and that it is the first time that a State government has taken steps to permanently rehabilitate such a large number of people. But the statistics released by the Revenue Minister at a media conference in May this year indicate that the government has spent (till May) only about Rs. 455 crore on the rehabilitation project much below the spending of donors who have chipped in with monetary contribution and construction work which together account for Rs. 637 crore. The Union Government too has provided Rs. 947 crore towards compensation.

Of the targeted 58,672 houses under the scheme, work has started on 51,839 houses, while 31,698 houses have been built so far. The construction of 7,098 houses are at the foundation level, while that of 5,071 houses are at the lintel level and 7,972 houses are at the roof level.

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