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Constituency residents fear missing Gaja relief, want by-election deferred

Though TTV Dhinakaran attributed political reasons to the parties’ stand, local residents and government officials said the by-election would hamper the relief work.

Published: 07th January 2019 02:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2019 06:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

TIRUVARUR: In line with the political parties, residents of Tiruvarur also want the by-election deferred. They fear the by-election will result in the uneven distribution of rehabilitation benefits.
Though TTV Dhinakaran attributed political reasons to the parties’ stand, local residents and government officials said the by-election would hamper the relief work. Extensive enumeration work by village administrative officers (VAOs) to distribute compensation for damaged houses and crops is still underway.
With the Centre approving  Rs 1,146-crore assistance to the cyclone-affected areas, Tiruvarur district stands to receive a considerable share of the fund as it was badly affected.  Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, during his visit to Tiruvarur on November 28, 2018 said that over 1, 50, 000 people from 34,000 families were staying in relief camps. 

A government official said, “If the by-election is on, the RDO, tahsildars and the VAOs had to take up the roles of election officials. They have to look after all election-related activities, right from monitoring the model code of conduct to setting up polling booths. How could they concentrate on rehabilitation work?” He added that the lack of local body representatives had already pulled back rehabilitation work. 

On 31 December, 2018, the district administration released Rs 10 crore towards compensation for damaged coconut trees to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. The next list of beneficiaries for crop damage is still being verified by VAOs, and the district administration is planning to distribute the relief funds to the remaining affected coconut farmers before Pongal. 

There are other reasons for the locals’ stand, too. G Varatharajan, a farmers’ representative, said, “The major fear among the electorate in Tiruvarur is about whether the rehabilitation work will continue if an opposition party wins the by-election.”

Senthur Pari, a Tiruvarur native and president of Exnora, a civic organisation, said, “I have come here from Chennai and been doing relief work for the past 45 days. A lot more needs to be done towards cutting and removing fallen trees.”

“As the Election Commission has given green signal to rehabilitation work, officials in Tiruvarur have been instructed by the district administration to distribute a rehabilitation kit comprising 27 items to all the affected people as soon as possible. The work is underway now,” said a source.



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