Less than a fortnight after heavy downpour nearly washed away all their belongings, the family of Manish Kevat was elated to receive a sealed sack of wheat and five-litre kerosene as relief given out by the government for rain-hit families in Bhopal. “Who won’t like 50 kg of free wheat in such difficult times,” said Kevat. But the happiness lasted only till he opened the sack.
“The wheat was mixed with soil, and some clods weighing 50 gm or more,’’ said Kevat (30), who earns his daily wage by waterproofing walls and roofs.
In Bhopal’s Rajeevnagar slum, where Manish lives in a 10×12 feet shanty, there were several other families who received wheat unfit for human consumption.
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The issue led to uproar in the Assembly with Opposition carrying samples of adulterated wheat to the House and also protesting outside the its premises. “I got a call around 9 am about the adulterated wheat and by 1 pm, I had received 40-50 calls. In some sacks the weight of soil was more than 50 per cent,’’ claimed Congress Councillor Monu Saxena, whose municipal ward -includes Rajeevnagar. He said over 70 out of 100 sacks distributed Monday were in similar condition.
Senior state minister Narottam Mishra promised a probe, but not before suggesting that the wheat was procured from farmers and distributed “as it is” to the residents of Bhopal. The Congress, however, demanded action against officials of the state civil supplies corporation.
“If this is the quality of wheat distributed in the state capital one can only imagine what must be happening in rural areas,’’ said Congress MLA Jaivardhan Singh.
All the politicking over the issue, however, did not help the cause of Manish, who lives with seven other family members, including three children, his brother and sister, in the shanty that still bears signs of the destruction caused by the rain.
“It took just 10 minutes for the rain to flood our homes, but more than 24 hours for the waters to recede,’’ recalled the 30-year-old.