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Cuddalore villagers selling off relief materials

Rituparna Bhowmik in Cuddalore | January 15, 2005 13:57 IST

With relief pouring in from all over the country in quantities more than required, tsunami-affected villagers in Cuddalore have reportedly started selling off the materials to local shops

Local administrative officials admitted they have received reports from certain villages that tsunami victims are selling off the daily ration provided to them by the government and nongovernmental organisations.

"Only today [Saturday] my office heard that villagers in the Devanampattinam village were selling off rice, pulses and other essential materials they get from NGOs," Sub Divisional Magistrate S Prabhakaran told PTI.

"This will be a setback for the many agencies that have been tirelessly working in this district since the tsunami struck," he remarked.

"Since we cannot upset the villagers, who are already in a sensitive state of mind after the loss, we will tackle the matter in an appropriate manner so as to put a stop to this and at the same time make sure that all the people get aid adequately," he said.

Local nodal officers also alleged that a few people indulge in fistfights every day to acquire the most volume of relief, which they later sell to local groceries.

Villagers in Cuddalore are getting as much as 20 kg of rice daily, a rural development official, requesting anonymity, said.

"Despite having issued them coupons and segregated them into categories according to their needs, the villagers try to grab maximum relief. Some people in Devanampattinam have sold off bed sheets, each costing about Rs 200, which were given to them by an NGO for as little as Rs 50," she said.

"The situation as it stands now is that the people who have lost everything in the tsunami have now an excess of relief material," she said.

The official said NGOs are still approaching district officials everyday to carry out relief works in the tsunami-affected areas, she said.

"We try to allot them particular villages so that materials reach the needy," she said.

Devanampattinam, the largest coastal fishing village, was the worst affected by the tsunami and has attracted the largest number of voluntary organizations, the official revealed.
"This severely hampers the relief efforts carried out by the government and other agencies," she added.

A member of an international NGO working in Devanampattinam said the agencies would meet the collector on Sunday and confirm the news about villagers selling off relief materials.

"Whatever be the truth, we will carry on our relief work and see to it that aid is adequately distributed," the member said.

Incidentally, the district officials had recently called for the streamlining of the relief operation.


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