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Compensation in limbo

The story of paying compensation to victims of the devastating floods of September 2014 may not be a scandal but by its contours it is somewhat akin to a scandal when we look in retrospect. The issue became volatile with the passage of time. Flood victims continued to register their complaints that they were not compensated. The State Government went on complaining that adequate funds were not sanctioned by the Centre that would meet the requirements of relief to be distributed and the Centre went on claiming that it had made sanctions in accordance with the reports of National Disaster Management Authority. Now in this litany of complaints and counter complaints who is right and who is wrong is difficult to ascertain. The amount of relief has been distributed through the Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the State Government. How much efficient and dedicated the functionaries of this department have been is a moot question. The ultimate sufferers in this blame game are those families who have in reality been the victim of the devastating floods.
It has to be admitted that the State Government is to be blamed for not having a well organized Disaster Management Authority that would have tackled the situation. It was primarily the duty of such a structure to provide relief and rehabilitation and also prepare complete data about the damages done to private and public property. In absence of such an organization the task was left to the Revenue Department. However, owing to slackness or inefficiency of the functionaries of this department many lacunae were left in preparing the list of genuine sufferers. The Union Government sent its own team after coming to know that there was no disaster management team really functional in the State. That team made its own assessment which when compared with the loss assessment made by the State Revenue authorities disclosed big difference. At this time, the Union Government announced that the amount of relief would be credited to the bank accounts of the sufferers and as such it desired the State Government to send the details of bank accounts of the recipients. The Union Government agencies began to credit the relief amount to these accounts. But then they detected serious irregularities especially duplication of bank accounts. For example one person earmarked as victim of flood ravages had as many as nine bank accounts in his name.
Thus we find that a big mess was created. Many families that existed only on paper were given relief fund. The State Government approached the Centre with the request that allocated funds under Prime Minister’s Development Programme or Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund were inadequate and many families were in need of support. The Centre asked for bank accounts and other details which, however, were not forthcoming. The result is that according to the State authorities about 24,000 families, which were hit by the devastating floods of September 2014, have not been paid compensation for their damaged houses under the Prime Minister Development Programme (PMDP) mainly because of ‘slackness’ on the part of Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Department in timely furnishing requisite details to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The State Revenue Department officials have been making one after the other excuse and unable to satisfy that there were genuine difficulties in providing the data as desired by the Central authorities.
The fact is that this is a case worth to be probed into and the disbursement of relief ought to be audited. We understand that actually those who have prepared the basic report of damages to private houses and public property have not been able to do justice to the task left to them by the Government. Unfortunately, the superior officers, too, have not shown keen interest in preparing correct data. This has led to huge irregularities in finalizing the report. And once the reports were audited by the Central authorities, they found there were irregularities, double entries, incomplete entries and ambiguous entries. Hence in an atmosphere of doubts and suspicious, the entire scheme had to be re-introduced according to the norms of the National Disaster Management Authority. Since the ground report has fallen short of the prescribed standard, the genuine families have been left out.


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