Thursday, June 4, 2009

Awaiting Aila affected people greeted Hindu Samhati Relief Team every where.




Extensive RELIEF WORK on 3rd June by HINDU SAMHATI

Sambuddha Gupta/ Spotlight News Services/ Kolkata & Sandeshkhali, 3rd June, 2009

In continuation of its extended Aila Relief Work, Hindu Samhati Workers penetrated some far reached areas of Sandeshkhali and Hingalganj Block in North 24 Parganas. On 04th June Hindu Samhati (HS) Relief Friends reached Malancha to join the local HS Workers to march towards Bermajur in Sandeshkhali II Block.

At Bermajur some 300 affected tribal people gheraoed Samhati Truck fully loaded with relief materials including dry foods, milk, medicines and ORS. The Aila affected tribal people were demanding some food and medical assistance as the Govt and other assistances are scanty and highly irregular. But When it was told that this relief team will go to Bermajur Dambalpara and Majherpara, the agitated people sympathetically allow HS team to venture there as no relief team covered those places yet.

As soon as a group of agile and dedicated workers left Bermajur Natun Bazar towards Dambalpara, Dr. Druba Mahajan and Upananda Brahmachari started a medical assistance camp in the near by fish market (though closed since the Aila Devastation on 25th May,09), where more than 100 patients were served with medicines, ORS, and Halazone tablets.

Though Majherpara-Dambalpara was a toughest place to reach, the relief team lead by Sujit Maity and Prokash Das reached there taking the relief materials by head-load and ‘shalti’- a small type of small boat, after exploring the waist level flood water stagnant there.

Another team distributed relief material at Gholapara and Jhupkhali Boyra Para. Dr. Subhankar Biswas always volunteered to reach the most difficult areas to extend every possible medical assistance to the affected people on this day.

Form Bermajur area the HS team reached at Dhamakhali in order to cross the river Bidyadhari to station at Khulna island, another land of devastation in Aila storm.

As His Excellency Sri Gopal Krishna Ghandhi reached Sandeshkhali this day, the police contingent over acted upon the relief team to reach them to Dhamakhali Jetty Ghat for crossing the river to reach other side for relief work. However, the HS Relief Team crossed the river hiring a boat from an unusual point at the muddy embankment taking a high risk.

In this island of Khulna (not in Bangladesh), the storm made a havoc and huge fertile lands have been spoilt under saline flood water. It was an unbearable situation to see, where the water logged affected people could not able to cook any food since the Aila Day. Hindu Samhati Relief Team reached South Banshtala, Bouthakurani, Bhandarkhali, Routpara, Basur More and Colony Para, all situated either or in a critical juncture of Sandeshkhali, Hasnabad and Hingalganj Blocks.
The local people and obviously some mothers helped the HS Team for distributing relief and preparing milk, etc. Samir Guha Roy, Prasenjit Samanta from Kolkata and Amlan, Ramkrishna, Pradip, Mrityunjay at the local level took a high initiative for this day towards an all round success of this Seva Day by all joint hands of the local Hindu Samhati workers. The total no. of 2000 people were benefited in 7 places out of this relief work on 3rd June. 42 Hindu Samhati activists participated on this Seva Day on 3rd June, 2009.

At the time of preparing this report, news came to Tapan Ghosh, President, Hindu Samhati, that a full fledged Relief Work is going today on 04th May at Atapur area in Khulna island in Sandeskhali II Block.

It is remarkable that when the agitating Aila affected people expressed their wrath and grief towards visiting people representatives like Local Member of Legislative Assembly or the Chief Minister of the State in a mud throwing or through abusive languages, the Hindu Samhati Workers or other Voluntary Organisations doing a meaningful relief work always greeted by the local affected people everywhere.
Why CM had to face the backlash
ZEESHAN JAWED / The Telegraph, Kolkata,

Gosaba, June 1: A kilometre-long corridor paved with little else other than red tape conspired with other attendant ills symptomatic of the Bengal administration’s decay to saddle the chief minister with his worst day in office on Sunday.
Lethargy, red tape, poor or non-existent infrastructure and lack of officers capable of taking rapid-fire decisions in the face of a crisis — you name it and Gosaba has seen it after Cyclone Aila struck last week.
An on-the-spot assessment by The Telegraph in Gosaba, where the chief minister ran into an unparalleled backlash by enraged cyclone victims, suggests relief materials are held up as long as 12 hours just to meet bureaucratic requirements.
Tight monitoring is required in a country notorious for pilferage but a full week after the cyclone hit, the administration has been unable to streamline the process.
The “entry-making” system in Gosaba is so convoluted that the relief materials are ferried by cycle vans over a 1km stretch from a ghat to a godown, only to be brought back to the same riverbank after faithfully recording the contents in a file. (See chart)
The journey of a relief consignment from Godkhali ghat to the godown and back captures everything that is wrong with the way Bengal is being run. Motorable roads do not exist beyond the ghat and the Bidhyadhari river. On the other side of the bank, there are only trails navigable by cycle vans.
For an administration that stirred out of stupor on Thursday — three days after the cyclone wreaked havoc — the requirement of “entry-making” was another diversion that devoured time. “We are distributing government relief materials and so we have to follow a set of processes, which may often take time,” admitted a block official standing next to the 1,000sqft godown of the Gosaba block office this afternoon.
Out of over 5 lakh people in the Gosaba block, over 2.5 lakh people were affected after Aila struck the Sunderbans last Monday.
Soon after the chief minister’s departure, some residents chased and beat up Gosaba BDO Amiya Bhushan Chakraborty, blaming him for the delay in relief delivery. “An individual cannot be blamed for this…. It would have been the same with a different official,” said another block office employee, blaming the system and the slow initial response.
He was overseeing the unloading of cycle vans ferrying relief materials from the Gosaba ghat to the block office, around 1km from the Bidyadhari. The sacks of rice and pulses and tarpaulin sheets had reached Godkhali ghat, on the other bank, early this morning. “The relief materials were unloaded from the trucks and our men there made the entries before loading them into steamers to be ferried to this side of the river,” he added.
A fleet of 20 to 25 cycle vans brought the materials to the Gosaba block office godown from the Bidyadhari’s banks and a middle-aged block official was tallying the list before allowing them to be stored in the godown. At the block office, officials, in consultation with gram panchayat members, were deciding on the quantity of materials to be sent to places like Sajnekhali, Bally I, Bally II, Choto Mollakhali and Kochukhali.
“Now the materials will be loaded in cycle vans and taken again to the Gosaba ghat, to be loaded into steamers or mechanised boats. Then the boats will sail for the affected areas,” the official said. “If a relief consignment arrives at Godkhali at 7am, it can’t leave Gosaba ghat for distribution before at least 7pm.”
Relief experts said the process helped prevent pilferage but multiple transhipment points delayed delivery. “When the crisis is so grave, some of these processes can be tweaked to ensure efficient, speedy distribution,” said Tanaji Sen, humanitarian services manager, REDR India, an NGO that specialises in disaster management.
Setting up a temporary godown either at Godkhali ghat — known as Singhadwar or the main entrance to the Sunderbans — or the Gosaba ghat to stock relief materials could have saved time, Sen said.
Such decisions need officers who have the ability and freedom to take quick decisions — virtues in short supply in the Bengal administration. BDO Chakraborty said setting up temporary godowns was impossible. “There is hardly any place along the ghats to build a temporary godown.”
But he conceded: “Our main problem is transportation of relief material after it reaches the Godkhali ghat.”
That is where the lack of another requirement of governance — foresight and planning — comes into play. “Everybody knows the Sunderbans is a disaster-prone area. The most important part of disaster management is preparedness. It’s clear the administration didn’t have the preparedness to tackle a crisis like this,” Sen said.

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