Red Cross Society is suffering loss of volunteers, stalled projects due to paucity of funds

Even as the Red Cross Society’s Tripura branch continues to suffer paucity of funds and materials, full-time volunteers have begun to dissociate themselves from the organisation for lack of remuneration.The organisation has found itself unable to fulfil its commitments and complete projects — many of which are significant, being related to disaster management, as the State comes under the earthquake-prone fifth seismic zone. Conflict-related initiatives, however, have been suspended thanks to a sizeable reduction in insurgency and ethnic strife. “It’s a very serious situation. We are facing a problem in [carrying on with] programmes and [paying] volunteers who manage office, as well as our vehicle drivers,” Red Cross Society’s Tripura secretary N.C. Bhowmik said on Friday.

“We are doing some good work for the people. Our volunteers have been assisting patients in outdoor facilities of major hospitals to help them get rid of racketeer elements,” he told The Hindu .

Since 2002, the Red Cross Society has trained some 400 volunteers in the State. The disaster management programmes, launched a few years ago, have imparted training to some 200 volunteers.

Dr. Bhowmik said 100 more volunteers in four subdivisions would have been trained for disaster management by the end of July, but for the funds-crunch. “We have approached the State government and the NDMA [National Disaster Management Authority] for support,” Dr. Bhowmik said.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has approved disaster management initiatives in eight States — West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat, Assam and Tripura.

The NDMA has also contemplated some programmes in a few north-eastern States including Tripura, but these are mainly concentrated in training security force personnel.

Dr. Bhowmik said a trained volunteer could be very resourceful in a disaster situation. Two of them from Tripura — Rajesh Saha and Uttam Debnath — were lauded for their work in earthquake-ravaged Sikkim.

  • Most of the Tripura branch’s projects are related to disaster management

  • RCS has trained some 400 volunteers in the State since 2002