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States 
 

Gujarat Govt’s decision to stop relief work flayed
Gandhinagar, June 19
(HT Correspondent)

SEVERAL NGOs, Gandhians, intellectuals and management experts have expressed concern over the Gujarat Government's decision to stop the ongoing drought relief work with the arrival of the monsoons in the State.

A government resolution has stated that the relief work being carried out in the State would be stopped with the first monsoon showers. Some officials have also ridiculed the poor tribals by saying that silver jewellery sales in these district headquarters have gone up.

The NGOs, Gandhians and others have taken a strong exception to such remarks. Instead, some of the NGOs, engaged in building check dams and distributing relief material to the distressed, have complained of political interference from MLAs on matters like who should supply the raw materials for the construction. They have also complained that several fake NGOs with political connections have cropped up almost overnight just to corner the official grants for drought relief.

Even as the monsoon clouds are playing hide-and-seek over Gujarat for last ten days without much rains, the NGOs have condemned the Government's ad-hoc nature of the relief work, especially when it was known since last August that it would be a drought year. "It appears that the government has a vested interest in ad-hocism and Central aid ", a veteran journalist pointed out, who said that the 1986-88 drought was better managed. Deliberations at a meeting in Ahmedabad on Saturday pointed out that outbreak of monsoon after such a long dry spell would be a worse situation to control. Cattle stock, famished for several months, would immediately start feeding on the newly grown grass in the fields leading to gastro problems, Prof. Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management told the gathering.

Agricultural operations would take 40 days to start even after the first rains and stopping relief work during this period would not be advisable, the participants felt. If the rural poor are deprived of relief work during this period, they would soon fall into the debt trap as they would start pawning their household goods for survival, it was said.


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