Report slams tardy relief measures in Assam - The New Indian Express

Report slams tardy relief measures in Assam

Published: 16th November 2012 10:06 AM

Last Updated: 16th November 2012 10:06 AM

Despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s high-profile visits to the strife-torn region of lower Assam and promises of ‘all help’, the state government’s response to the ethnic violence has been tardy. A study conducted by Rehnuma, a project under the aegis of the National Foundation of India and Planning Commission, has indicted the Assam government for its poor management of relief and rehabilitation operations in the violence-affected districts.

While the Prime Minister visited the Congress-ruled state on July 28, Sonia Gandhi reached Kokrajhar district only on August 13. The report, which covers all the violence-hit districts, is based on field investigations conducted between July 26 and August 30.

“The Government of Assam is still following age-old criteria of relief that are provided after any disaster. The gross inadequacy speaks of the complete disregard of the serious situation of the people who have suffered losses,” the report said.

Although the Prime Minister announced a compensation package of `300 crore as central assistance, the report found this sum to be inadequate as the people who were displaced due to the violence lost everything including houses and livestock. The report added that many families living in the camps returned to villages in the hope of salvaging some belongings, but found their dwellings reduced to rubbles.

“It must be taken into account that not only have the houses been damaged, people have also lost movable property inside the house, along with livestock and livelihood and uninsured commercial property.

Hence a detailed damage assessment must be conducted and the compensation must be awarded category wise commensurate to the amount of loss,” the report stated.

The report also slammed the Assam government for the poor condition of the relief camps, stating that the supplies and water and sanitation facilities are lacking. Pregnant women in the camps were provided with some nutrition only after Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed intervened.

“Young kids have no clothes to wear; women have to make do with unhygienic conditions. Pregnant women are also suffering because of lack of facilities. Though the officially reported death toll is 77, volunteers have informed about deaths caused due to shock in the camps,” the report stated.

The report has recommended the Centre and state governments to increase the compensation package allocated for the survivors.

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