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Claimants’ surge slows down relief work

Officials say more than one person from each family turned up to claim food and money.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Ganjam |
October 17, 2013 12:04:09 am

As relief work started in most parts of Ganjam district,which was battered by cylcone Phailin four days ago,administration officials engaged in distributing relief material faced a new challenge — more number of people turned up for relief than they had initially estimated. The confusion that came with it slowed down the relief distribution work.

The district administration planned to distribute 50 kg of rice and Rs 500 to each of the seven lakh affected families irrespective of the degree of loss they suffered,but by Wednesday evening the district administration realised that more than one person from each family had turned up to claim relief. In worst-hit Chhatrapur block,rice reached all the 17 grampanchayats,but only 20 per cent of it could be distributed due to the confusion over more claimants.

“It is becoming problematic for us,” admitted district emergency officer Mahendra Panda. “But we would soon sort out the problem.”

In the most-affected villages,people were thankful to the district administration for saving their lives by timely evacuation,but there were some angry voices over poor quality of rice being provided as relief.

In Badaaryapalli village on the coast,housewife Gopi took out a handful of rice minutes after it was handed to her. “The rice is inedible,” she said. Others in the village too complained of poor quality rice. On Tuesday,there were more than a dozen road blockades over relief not reaching the affected.

In Haripur village under Chhatrapur block,over 2,000 villagers could get food only after Karuna,the Orissa police welfare organisation,started a community kitchen at the multipurpose cyclone shelter centre.

There were two such community kitchens in neighbouring Bandar and Rekuttur villages by Karuna.

Ganjam SP Ashish Kumar Singh said the community kitchen,started with a donation of Rs 5 lakh by Orissa DGP Prakash Mishra,would continue for the next 10 days. “We want to ensure that the most-affected villages don’t remain hungry till relief work is completed,” said Singh.

But unlike the 1999 super cyclone,there was little or no sign of NGOs on the ground except Anand Margis who started the process of disposing over 6,000 animal carcasses.

Officials said rice distribution would be completed in a day or two,but admitted that kerosene distribution still remained the biggest challenge. With its power distribution system wrenched out by Phailin,Ganjam now needs 32 lakh litres of kerosene to keep the homes away from darkness.

“Even if the total amount of kerosene available in Bhubaneswar and Jatni is sent to Ganjam,it would not be enough to meet the needs of the affected people. We also need 4 lakh more polythene for the affected people,” said a district official.

Berhampur town,which is the worst-hit area after Chhatrapur,on Wednesday got drinking water in the evening after massive 350 KVA diesel gensets started pumping water into the overhead water tanks. People in Chhatrapur town would get water from Thursday morning,officials said.

Energy department officials said it would take at least 10 more days to restore power supply in urban areas while the rural areas would get power in another three weeks. But power would be restored by October 18 in important buildings such as collectorate office,SP office in Chhatrapur,the sub-collector office in Berhampur and the MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur.


*36 deaths due to the cyclone and the flood that followed have been reported in the state so far; 10 in Ganjam district.

* Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written a letter to PM,

demanding an advance of Rs 1,000 crore over and above the corpus of Rs 523 crore available in the State Disaster Response Fund for 2013-14.

* He wrote that more than four lakh houses and standing crops over six lakh hectares have been damaged.

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