For flood victims in rural areas, an endless wait for relief

A flood victim at Chittapur taluk in Kalaburagi district.   | Photo Credit: ARUN KULKARNI

“When residents of the bypoll-bound R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru suffered house damage after heavy rains, they got an immediate relief of ₹25,000 per household. But such relief was missing for North Karnataka,” said farmers’ leader Choonappa Pujari in Belagavi on Sunday. He accused the State government of playing politics over flood relief.

The farmers of Belagavi have been badly hit by successive floods and are finding it difficult to rebuild their lives. Farmers in Kangrali in Khanapur taluk have lost three crops since the monsoon of 2019 and also suffered losses in the recent heavy rains. Basavaraj Kareppa, who had sown millets, niger and vegetables on his 4-acre land, said his entire crop was washed away. “I lost my crop in 2019. I reinvested all the money that I received in relief on cultivation of kharif crop this time. But I have lost that too,” he said.

He is among the many farmers and villagers who have lost their crops, houses and cattle. Very few have got proper relief amounts, according to Jayashree Gurannanavar, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leader. She alleged that only the politically powerful farmers had got proper compensation.

The KRRS conducted a house loss survey in Saundatti taluk and found that 6-8 houses were damaged in each village, but the staff at the tahsildar’s office have maintained that only 35 houses were damaged in the taluk, she said. Mr. Pujari alleged that families with clout had bribed or influenced officers to include their names in the list of house collapse victims, despite not suffering the misfortune.

Compensation numbers

Officials admitted that only a handful of the 4,619 families who lost their houses have received complete compensation in Belagavi district. The Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation releases house loss relief in four instalments. Only a small percentage of individuals have got the fourth instalment. At a recent review meeting, officers told Revenue Minister R. Ashok that only around 20% of the beneficiaries had received three instalments. Over 80% are yet to get the second instalment, which is given for building walls after laying the foundation of the house. The official reason is that the beneficiaries have not been quick to upload the GPS data on the house sites and pictures of the various stages of house construction.

However, the impact of this year’s floods has been less than that of last year’s. Officials have estimated the loss suffered by private individuals, government institutions and public authorities to be ₹268 crore between July to September. The loss in October is still being assessed. Officials say that may come to around another ₹100 crore to ₹150 crore. But this is much lower than the losses suffered in 2019. The loss in Belagavi district alone stood at around ₹35,000 crore then, said a senior officer. Of that, only around 6%, or ₹2,100 crore, was released by the Union government last year.

In Vijayapura district, the total crop loss is around ₹790 crore, and over 3,000 houses have been affected. Ex-gratia relief has been given to 1,325 families who lost their houses. Initial estimates have put crop loss on 2.5 lakh hectares, including 15,000 hectares of horticultural crop. This translates to an input subsidy relief of ₹636 crore for agriculture and ₹156 crore for horticulture. The final survey is yet to be completed.

In Bagalkot, as many as 5,881 houses were completely or partially damaged. The crop loss is pegged at one lakh hectares of agricultural crop and 47,000 hectares of horticultural crop. The total loss is estimated to be around ₹700 crore. In both Bagalkot and Vijayapura, distribution of crop loss relief is in progress, while house damage compensation distribution is yet to start.

What was promised

There is palpable anger over the delay in distribution of compensation across these districts. After conducting an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Kalaburagi and Yadgir on October 21, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had promised that relief and rehabilitation work would be taken up on a war footing. The next day, Deputy Chief Minister and Kalaburagi district in-charge Govind Karjol reiterated this. He promised an immediate relief of ₹10,000 to each flood-affected family and a survey of damaged houses within 15 days. Over a week down the line, these assurances are yet to translate into reality.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 9:32:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/for-flood-victims-in-rural-areas-an-endless-wait-for-relief/article32998807.ece

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