VISAKHAPATNAM: Post-Hudhud, ‘help’ is flooding Visakhapatnam district from various quarters, particularly in the form of rice. However, officials do not know where to store it as the district suffers from an acute shortage of godowns.
The civil supplies department has godowns to store nearly 26,000 tonne and rice stocks for distribution in October were kept there. Officials said the stock is sufficient to meet the requirement of November as well. “We hoped to distribute about 14,000 tonne during October. We have sent 4,000 tonne to fair price shops by the time the cyclone struck on October 12. After that, distribution was disrupted,” said an official. When the cyclone hit, nearly 24,000 tonne of rice was stocked in the godowns. Some of these godowns were damaged severely, destroying the rice stocks inside. Officials are yet to assess the loss. Then, Chief Minister N Chadrababu Naidu announced a relief package of 25 kg rice, and other essentials, to each cyclone-affected family and asked the officials to get rice from other districts. Higher officials, who were unaware of stock available and the number of affected families, are learnt to have transported 10,000 tonne, apart from ordering another 18,000 tonne for distribution among cyclone victims.
“We could have informed the higher officials not to bother about importing additional rice from neighbouring districts, but didn’t as we are in a typical situation where we are unable to estimate available stocks as large quantities of rice were damaged due to cyclone,” said an official.
Adding to the woes, godown space got damaged and officials are clueless as to where to store the fresh stocks arriving from other districts.
However, another big challenge is the arrival of a large number of trucks with rice donated by philanthropists and various organisations as a part of cyclone relief.
Though the lorries have started arriving within two days after the cyclone caused destruction, there is no place to store the rice, forcing the lorries to either wait along the national highway or just dump the stock in one of the affected areas.
“We were asked to monitor distribution of rice. But with limited manpower and godown space, this seems to be a nearly impossible task,” the official added. He said efforts are being made to store the fresh stocks in private godowns until they are distributed.
SPECIAL TEAMS to curb hoarding
Noticing that rice meant for distribution in cyclone-affected areas through fair price shops was being diverted, the civil supplies department has formed special teams to curb the illegal activity. On Friday and Saturday, officials have inspected nearly 180 fair price shops in the three north coastal districts and registered 25 cases. Officials said stringent action will be initiated against the offenders.