Relief inadequate, drought-hit tell Sonia

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi interacting with people in Bhojpur near Jaipur on Tuesday.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi interacting with people in Bhojpur near Jaipur on Tuesday.

Sunny Sebastian

Despite signs of rain, miseries persist and the relief work is to go on till July 15

DUDU (JAIPUR): Congress president Sonia Gandhi hit the drought relief trail in Rajasthan for the second day on Tuesday. Starting early in the morning after hectic late evening discussions with party leaders in the State the previous day at the workers training camp at Padampura near here, Ms. Gandhi visited three locations in Jaipur district's Dudu tehsil before flying back to Delhi in the afternoon.

The manifestations of drought and the misery brought about by it were all the same though the locations she visited in two days were far-flung and drastically different. From the sand dunes of Sam in the Thar desert Jaisalmer to the plains of Jaipur, the refrain from the public was the same inadequate relief work, discrimination in sanctioning relief projects and irregularities in the payment of wages.

"I have received many complaints from the people here. Some of them are getting the rations, some are not. The wages are not paid as per the norms. Instead of Rs. 73 they are getting Rs. 33," Ms. Gandhi told newspersons after interacting with a crowd of villagers, most of them women, at Indira Colony on Bhojpur road in Dudu, 65 km from the capital along the National Highway No.8.

Ms. Gandhi's visit may have appeared a delayed gesture as the thunderclouds are gathering on the horizon and the area has some visible signs of showers already received in the form of puddles. Yet Ms. Gandhi was not late as the miseries persist and officially the drought relief works are to continue till July 15.

The reactions from the villagers at Naraina a group of women stopped the entourage of Ms. Gandhi to the consternation of the SPG to narrate their woes were ample testimony to the sheer drudgery in their lives. "After nine days work what I got was 30 kg wheat. I told her this," a middle aged woman Hussaini who talked to Ms. Gandhi on Bhojpur road told newspersons later. "I am yet to receive 15 days' wages and my husband is ill," was what Badam, a mother of four children, told Ms. Gandhi.

"There is discrimination in the sanctioning of the drought relief works," Ms. Gandhi told media groups at Naraina, echoing the complaints aired earlier by both Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Kalla on the Bharatiya Janata Party Government's singling out panchayats of Congress sympathisers.



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