KOLKATA: Taking a lesson from the Amphan compensation controversy, which the BJP had used as a political tool ahead of the assembly polls, the Mamata Banerjee government is being extra careful in verifying claims of Cyclone Yaas victims.
Over 50 per cent of applications for compensation in the wake of Cyclone Yaas that ravaged parts of the state in May have been identified as bogus after inspections and spot verifications. Of the 3,81,470 applications received seeking compensation, over 1,80,000 were rejected.
Many grassroots Trinamool Congress functionaries and their relatives had siphoned off compensation money meant for Cyclone Amphan victim last year, leading to a lot of anger and disgruntlement among genuine sufferers. In view of this, the government decided not to engage local panchayats to finalise the list of Yaas victims for awarding relief.
“This time, the local administration set up camps under the banner of Duare Tran (relief at doorstep) in the affected areas, a brainchild of the chief minister. During the inspections and spot verifications, a huge volume of applications for compensation was found to be false,’’ said an official at the state secretariat. Citing an example, he said the coastal district of East Midnapore, which was badly affected by Cyclone Yaas, the government received 1,17,654 applications for compensations and after spot verification, more than 72,000 were cancelled.
Sources said during inspections, officials found many phone numbers on the applications to be fake. Also visits to many sites had no sign of devastation, as claimed in the applications. Last year, many local TMC functionaries and their relatives, who are living in concrete houses and were not even touched by Amphan, had to refund the compensation amounts after the corruption controversy surfaced. The party show-caused and expelled a number of satraps. The BJP made it its political tool to attack the Mamata government in the run-up to the recent assembly elections.