'Govt aid went to upper castes; NGOs' to Dalits, minorities'
By A Staff Reporter
AHMEDABAD: A survey conducted by two non-governmental organisations has shown that the upper castes were the bigger beneficiaries of the relief and aid provided by the state government to the earthquake-affected in Kutch, while places like Anjar and Rapar which are dominated by minorities and scheduled categories were ignored.
Based on the 'perceptions on relief' of 613 households from 30 villages of Bhuj, Bhachau, Rapar and Anjar talukas who were interviewed, the Behavioural Science Centre (BSE) and Delhi-based Indian Social Institute (ISI) have concluded that "the government neglected the taluka of Rapar almost entirely. While in Anjar, only 2 per cent of the respondents received anything substantial from the government."
Addressing newspersons, Anita Dixit from the BSE said the survey had shown that Rapar had the highest number of SC and ST population (27.5 %) while they comprised 19 percentage of Anjar.
The NGOs have in their recommendations to the government stressed that relocation should not be the priority since most of the villagers were not interested in moving out of their original home ground.
The survey conducted in April has also shown that most of the government action in relief was seen in Bhuj and some of it in Bhachau.
Dixit said they felt that the gram sabhas alone should not be the agency to implement these policies. Babubhai from Adhoi, who was one of the investigators, told reporters that their village where 20 per cent of the population had perished in the quake was relocated and adopted by Maharashtra allegedly "against the wishes of most of the villagers".
BSE and ISI alleged that while the upper castes were already feeling settled and their livelihood restored two months after the quake, while the rest of the "marginalised sections" had yet to find jobs.
They also alleged that there was no package for the daily wagers which had increased by 10 per cent since the quake among the SC and ST communities. Further, they said that in Rapar and Anjar at least 90 per cent of the respondents had got no support for rebuilding their livelihoods.
The agencies have recommended that the relocation of affected villages should not be on the extent of damage suffered, but on the basis of micro-zoning where villages which are on the fault line should be moved. According to them, the government should provide cash doles to all households below the poverty line, unemployed and under employed, all those who have lost their employment from other communities especially the SC and ST, for six months.
They pressed that all those affected should be given ration cards within two months, and that a special officer be deputed to the taluka levels to supervise, monitor relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction operations, and the monthly target achievement report should be made public.