Chennai: There is a proverb that ‘Alavukku Minjinal Amudhamum Nanju‘. This has been proved once again in the relief works being carried out in Cyclone Gaja-affected areas in the delta district.
There is so much buzz about a lot of relief work being carried out by several NGOs, organisations, individuals and political parties.
However, even after 12 days of the devastation, there are still reports of relief material, including basic amenities, not reaching several places. There are also reports of people getting more relief materials in some spots than what is actually needed.
Experts say that this is mostly because of the lack of coordination between the groups helping the affected.
“This is waste of money, resources and most, importantly, time. We cannot give people what we think they require; each household has a different need and this can be done only with financial aid. One can appreciate the efforts of the NGOs, public, political parties and celebrities to help the victims. But there are very high chances of the material getting wasted and not reaching people who are not in need of it despite all the verification hashtags that are circulated with a message,” said Vignesh, a techie.
He further said there was a time when volunteering meant physical involvement of rescuing people.
“But now the entire meaning of volunteering has changed especially after the Chennai 2015 floods. Post the floods, volunteering has mostly become collecting and sending relief materials and, at times, clicking pictures and posting it on social media,” he said.
Volunteers also say that they distribute relief materials because they feel they can reach faster and the right people.
“We are not confident about giving the money to the government as we feel that there will not be much transparency in the process. We cannot be sure of what the funds are being utilised for. Above all, we do not have to be always dependent on the government for all our needs,” said Kumaran, a volunteer.
Kumaran added that people cannot say pasting stickers is the reason for not giving money to the government.
“In fact, most relief material have stickers of the donors. People look for publicity in everything. It is up to the individual to decide whether to do the relief by oneself or give it in monetary form to the government,” he added.
There are instances of volunteers being attacked. Anxious people in one village get news about another village getting relief materials but they do not. They start attacking volunteers and take away the goods. This always puts the life of the volunteers at risk.
Vasudevan, a member of Direction for Volunteers, said, “Without knowing the status, a section of victims is attacking volunteers who went there to provide relief material.” However, police personnel have made sure that they give utmost protection to the volunteers.
What can be done
Instead of giving materials on their own, volunteers can direct all the funds to the government, help them in identifying the areas in need of essentials, work with the government and ensure that the things reach the needy. They can ask the government to be transparent about the spending.
A government official, on condition of anonymity, said volunteer help is certainly needed, but it should all be coordinated so that people benefit.
“The government has announced compensation for different losses. The money will be allotted to the victims after verification by a government official. Volunteers can help in such scenarios,” he said.
How much so far
A recent statement said the CMPRF had received Rs 13.32 crore. Cheques or demand drafts drawn in favour of the
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|Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund may be sent to The Joint Secretary & Treasurer, Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund, Finance Department, Government of Tamilnadu, Secretariat, Chennai 600 009.
Contributions can be sent to the designated savings bank account of the CMPRF at Indian Overseas Bank, Secretariat Branch, Chennai 600009. S.B. A/c No : 11720 10000 00070, IFSC: IOBA0001172, CMPRF PAN: AAAGC0038F.