Corrupt officials siphon away relief funds
Whenever there is a crises or disaster, we read how well the government is reacting to the disaster and about the various relief schemes to help the sufferers. At the same time all of us have this nagging feeling that the ‘relief’ is falling into the wrong hands. The guilty people are tehsildars, district supply officers and other officials, including some senior ones like additional collectors and deputy collectors. An article in yesterday’s Mumbai Mirror lists some recent instances of this happening after the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report revealed that crores of rupees were siphoned off by corrupt officials
WHAT THE CAG OBJECTED TO
• Relief assistance of Rs 35.65 crore distributed without verification of identity proofs (Maharashtra floods of July 2006)
• Ex-gratia (Rs 4.39 crore) disbursed without following guidelines
• 644 families deprived of Rs 6.44 crore
• Distribution of foodgrains and kerosene was made to 10.51 lakh and 9.47 lakh families respectively, whereas government figures show only 7.47 beneficiaries on record
• Rs 23.42 crore distributed to farmers in some places without verification of identity
• Failure of government in co-ordinating with Karnataka government for timely release of water from Almatti Dam resulted in most parts of Sangli district remaining under water. There, Rs 58.78 crore was spent on relief operations
There are also indications that a substantial part of the money reserved for various relief schemes for the farmers in Maharashtra’s suicide belt never reached the victims. A report by maitripune (after a 60-day padayatra undertaken by the group through the suffering villages) has revealed that farmers, who are mostly illiterate, put their thumb print on papers without understanding what they are signing. The group asked several farmers if they had got compensation, but some of them had not even heard of it!
I got to know of this report from my uncle, who is a farmer – he has a copy. He told me about a three year old girl mentioned in the report. She was burning with high fever. Her parents had migrated to the city to work as hard labour (no money was given by the government). Her grandmother is asked why she doesn’t take the girl to the doctor. The grandmother answers stoically, ‘Ti aapaap bari hoyeel.’ (She’ll get alright on her own). When prodded further the grandmother admits that there is not enough food to eat, so where is the question of paying money to a doctor?
As long as we keep electing corrupt people to power, these tragedies are not going to stop. And as long as our justice system continues to groan under its own weight, the guilty will not be punished. One thing is for sure. Donating money to any government relief ‘fund’ is a no-no.