Storm victims complain of inadequate relief supply

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA:Enraged over inadequate supply of relief material, victims of the powerful storm that hit four blocks of the Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal little after midnight on Tuesday staged a demonstration before a Sub-Divisional Office and also blocked a State highway for hours before the police dispersed the mob on Friday.

The devastating storm has claimed 42 lives and destroyed over 70,000 houses, rendering more than one lakh people homeless. It has also caused considerable damage to standing crops. Communication channels and electricity supply that were severely hit are yet to restored in most of the affected areas.

President Pratibha Patil conveyed her distress over the loss of lives and property. “While expressing confidence that the State government is providing due care and assistance to affected families, the President has conveyed her condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery to the injured people,” the statement issued by Raj Bhavan here stated.

Governor M.K. Narayanan will visit the storm-ravaged areas on his way back from Sikkim on Saturday.

Resentment against inadequate supply of relief materials had been gathering among the storm victims in the region since Thursday, when a truckload of polythene sheets were looted by a mob.

According to a senior district police official, a large mob demonstrated in front of Islampur's SDO in the Karandighi area, alleging mismanagement in relief operations and also blocked the Highway at Hemtabad. “Additional forces were sent to the spots and crowds restrained. The situation is under control now,” the official said.

Islampur's sub-divisional officer, Sudip Mitra, told The Hinduover telephone that there was considerable grievance among the villagers regarding the distribution of relief materials.

“When I went to the villages, the residents complained that certain panchayat heads were distributing relief materials only to members of their parties while the others did not receive anything. I have asked leaders of both political sides to work together and assess the losses for proper distribution of compensation.”

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Partha Chatterjee visited the affected areas during the day and accused the State Government of being “inefficient and indifferent He sought the Centre's intervention in carrying out relief operation.

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