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TSUNAMI-AFFECTED FARMERS:,LIES AND DAMN LIES

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  • Pankaj Sekhsaria
    THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS | ISSUE 30 | 20 APRIL 2012 http://lightofandamans.blogspot.com/2012/04/cover-story-tsunami-affected-farmers.html COVER STORY:
    Message 1 of 2 , 23 Apr 6:49 am
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      THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS | ISSUE 30 | 20 APRIL 2012
      http://lightofandamans.blogspot.com/2012/04/cover-story-tsunami-affected-farmers.html
      COVER STORY:

      TSUNAMI-AFFECTED FARMERS:
      LIES AND DAMN LIES

      By Zubair Ahmed

      It's very easy to say that the farmers have waited eight years. However,
      in these eight years, the Islands saw three Administrators, four Chief
      Secretaries, five Deputy Commissioners and countless
      Commissioner-cum-Secretaries for Relief and Rehabilitation.
      Simultaneously, the submerged landscape has also changed its nature into
      different avatars during the last eight years. Before tsunami, it was
      agricultural land, post-tsunami, it was called tsunami affected land,
      later it turned to be a fishing ground brimming with fishermen and
      crocodiles, now it's transforming into a mangrove groove with fresh
      offshoots appearing here and there. Finally, nature-lovers and
      conservationists have started to realise that the newly-formed wetlands
      are turning into an abode for migratory, resident and common birds.
      However, the status of the affected farmers has remained unaffected
      without much to talk about. The Administration never allowed them to
      shed the affix 'tsunami-affected' from their names. They are sympathised
      with and everybody worth of their salt has tried to play with their
      emotions. Elections were fought and won on this issue.
      When the Home Minister P Chidambaram visited the Islands to take stock
      of the development and progress of this territory, he proclaimed at a
      public meeting at Congress Bhavan that ANI Admn has successfully
      completed the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme except carpeting of 4.8
      km road and distribution of compensation package to the farmers whose
      lands are submerged.
      "The 2012 tsunami did not touch the shores of Andamans, as it felt
      ashamed how ANI Admn had miserably failed in compensating the poor
      farmers affected by the 2004 tsunami," said an aggrieved farmer
      sarcastically on the attitude of ANI Admn towards the tsunami-affected
      farmers of South Andaman.
      Some called the day of protest a black day, others a shameful day. And,
      the ANI Administration felt that a day was wasted. The Deputy
      Commissioner wanted his honour not to be breached. The bureaucrats at
      the highest level did not want to climb down the elite pedestal and meet
      the protesting farmers. The Lieutenant Governor, who had once openly
      declared his personal interest in the tsunami compensation issue,
      shirked away from meeting the farmers as it seems, he himself remains
      clueless and in darkness about the issue.
      After a long wait and various forms of protest in the last couple of
      years, assurances of various types and kinds were what the farmers got
      in exchange. When the Home Minister P Chidambaram visited the Islands in
      January this year, he promised twice that an amount of Rs 130 crores has
      been sanctioned and will try to disburse it before 31 March 2012.
      There is a deep sense of betrayal, fear and permanent sense of loss, as
      the landowners, who see their submerged land and the lackadaisical
      attitude of the Administration.
      In fact, the Home Minister did say that the fund has been given to ANI
      Admn and about 95% victims are willing to take the compensation package
      and a small minority of about 5% are reluctant and his request was to
      convince the remaining few. He categorically said that efforts will be
      made to disburse the amount before the end of last financial year. He
      even said that it would be very difficult to reopen and revise the
      package at this moment and when specifically asked, assured that the
      submerged land would not be acquired in lieu of the compensation amount,
      as it was a natural disaster.
      When the protesting farmers met Bhupinder Singh Bhalla,
      Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Revenue he informed them that the amount was
      only sanctioned and not allotted, and the file is in Ministry of
      Finance. It is also strongly doing the rounds that the amount was diverted.
      There has been lack of transparency in the ways of the administration.
      First, they failed to identify sufficient alternate land, and later they
      announced the amount as relief and now they are stressfully mentioning
      it as compensation in lieu of submerged land.
      When mourning the deaths of thousands in a ritualistic manner, precious
      little has been done for the living. It has been a long game of passing
      the buck and any other tool that could justify inactions. The inertia of
      rest breaks only in bursts, after such protests.
      Its time the Admn removes the albatross of Tsunami Relief and
      Rehabilitation round its neck closes the file and the territory moves
      ahead with other pressing developmental projects.
      The Islanders deserve not a clarification, but immediate release of the
      relief amount and surely an apology for all the lies and damn lies
      perpetrated in the due course.
    • sharad pant
      Dear Friends It’s really frustrating even after 8 years there has been only a lollipop of promises and assurances for Tsunami affected farmers. It shows red
      Message 2 of 2 , 24 Apr 8:55 am
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        Dear Friends
        It’s really frustrating even after 8 years there has been only a lollipop of promises and assurances for Tsunami affected farmers. It shows red –tape sum and inhuman nature of bureaucratic system, political leaders and Government.  Remember the Bhopal – Gas tragedy, still after 4 decades victims has been fighting on street for their compensation.
        It is need of the day to take immediate action to settle down the life of Tsunami affected farmers by generating alternative livelihood according to their skill and competencies, in lieu of farming.
        Sharad Pant
        Development Professional
        INDIA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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