TAMIL NADU

Government "failed" to monitor relief work of NGOs



S. Sundar

They could not approach the affected: fishing community

NAGERCOIL: The Government has failed to monitor the activities of voluntary agencies involved in tsunami relief work in Kanyakumari district, complained a section of the fishermen community here. A close watch of the activities of the NGOs would have ensured equitable distribution of relief materials, they said.

"The NGOs had a lot of resources. They wanted to distribute them to the affected. But they could not approach the affected directly," alleged P. Syprian of Pallam. Favouritism shown by influential among the villagers prevented many affected people from getting free vallams, fishing nets, motors and other benefits from voluntary agencies, he said. The frustration of fishermen here forced them to float a third association to get their "due share."

Friction between the influential and the disappointed victims were reported in some of the villages. "The agencies were fully dependent on the community leaders to distribute relief. And a section of them took the lion's share, depriving benefits to the genuine victims," Mr. Syprian, who was a teacher here, said.

The discrimination was between big and small boat owners. "While a relative in Kerala (of an influential person) managed to get relief, a victim next door was denied all help," he added.

"Who prepared the list of beneficiaries is a big question," said J. Antony, a fisherman at Colachel. Only government distribution of compensation to the family members of the deceased was proper. But government staff were allegedly bribed to get other doles such as Rs. 4,000. Even getting soft loans was beyond the reach of ordinary victims, he complained.

On the complaints, Collector Sunil Paliwal said the officials could guide only those NGOs which were willing to work with the Government. "We cannot call the shots for all the NGOs," he said.

Livelihood relief

For livelihood relief distribution, where records were not sufficient, the lists of beneficiaries were published in local revenue offices and local bodies. Besides, they were read out in the churches. All objections were recorded and additions made accordingly. As many as 3,112 SHG had been given revolving fund and 27,000 disabled people provided livelihood training.

"We have fixed a target of 150 SHGs to be provided with economic activity benefits. So far only 15 groups have benefited.

All those who want to get them are welcome to avail themselves of the benefits," he added.

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