Will Uttarakhand tragedy relief works boomerang on CM

Dehradun: The opposition BJP has asked the Congress government in Uttarakhand to issue a white paper on the expenses occurred in the relief and rescue operations following the tragedy that struck this small mountain state on June 16-17.Will Uttarakhand tragedy relief works boomerang on CM

The Congress high command has more than once expressed its dissatisfaction in the manner in which the operation were handled by the Vijay Bahuguna government. In fact some senior state functionaries were also changed at the behest of the centre.

Uttarakhand Speaker, Govind Singh Kunjwal, who himself belong to the Congress, senior party leaders and some of the legislators from the affected assembly segments have voiced their resentment against the government at the manner in which the relief work is being undertaken.

The affected people in the worst hit districts have started taking to the street to protest against the snail’s pace in which the relief material is being distributed. There are allegations that most of the relief work is on paper and party functionaries and other “connected people” are “diverting” the relief material to their places or to their next of kin, while others are going hungry.

And now there are reports that even the Congress high command is concerned on reports of inefficiency and inability of the Vijay Bahuguna government in handling the situation and tackling the gravity of the situation to provide succour to the people, even after 70 days.

Fearing that the wrath of the party high command may fall on him, and he be replaced as chief minister of the state, supporters of Vijay Bahuguna, headed by Subodh Uniyal are camped in Delhi in a damage control exercise.

But apparently the party high command feels that if no action is taken in Uttarakhand, the anger of the affected people, who came from various parts of the country and had to spend agonizing time stranded in the various affected areas during the June 16-17 tragedy, may surface during Lok Sabha elections and hence the move for change.

The rescue and relief operations have at best been haphazard and tardy for even after 70 days there are hundreds of villages that remain cut off and where the state government has not been able to send the necessary supplies.

Apparently the condition is so because of the state bureaucracy which is adept at ensuring that everything is immaculate on paper, though the picture may be ramshackles and absolutely to the contrary at the ground level. This is perhaps why despite discontent by his senior party leaders and legislators of his own party, the chief minister seems to be “happy” at the manner in which the relief operations have and are being undertaken.

But he forgets that it is because of this very bureaucracy that the centre has formed a special committee of its own to supervise the reconstruction and rehabilitation works that are to be undertaken in the state after the all round devastation, and not leaving it to the Uttarakhand babudom.

If this was not all the Central Planning Commission has expressed its displeasure at the reconstruction programme made by the state officers, and pointed out several shortcoming and asked them to redo the entire affair.

Not only this thigh the Central Planning Commission has in principle agreed to the Rs 15,000 crores reconstruction and rehabilitation programme of Uttarakhand, but has put a rider. The money will not be given in one installment, but in installments spread over a period of three years.

The reason is simple. With the state bureaucracy having gained notoriety, the Commission does not want to take any chances and thereby wants to control the kitty. Should the money be squandered or not properly utilized, it can at least stop the release of the remaining installments.

Mr chief minister take heed, read the writing on the wall. Ensure that the money meant for the re,lied of the people reaches down to them and is not squandered on paper. There are already reports how material worth Rs 480 was bought and supplied for Rs 620 to the state government after due approval from the babudom. And this is not an isolated incident.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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