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2 WEEKS ON, RELIEF ELUDES THE NEEDY

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TRICHY: Even two weeks after cyclone Gaja wreaked havoc in delta districts, volunteers are finding it difficult transporting relief materials to interior villages as locals near the main roads have been blocking  vehicles and demanding essential commodities, even though many of them are self-sufficient.

One of the reasons for this situation is the lack of systematic distribution based on needs of people as volunteers are randomly visiting villages with relief materials. Villagers who did not receive adequate relief materials have been getting frustrated and found snatching or begging for relief material from vehicles.

A Jeyachandran, a volunteer from Coimbatore, had a bitter experience driving out of Alangudi in Pudukottai district. “People were restless in many of the villages chasing vehicles with relief materials. However most of those who were chasing the vehicles were those who have already got adequate materials,” he said.

“Since people coming from outside don’t know the geography or worst affected areas, it would have been better if people guided us to worst affected areas than demanding entire relief material for themselves,” added Jeyachandran.

City based software engineer B Vasanthanidhi said people collecting relief material were largely going by news reports on places worst affected by the cyclone. “No doubt that Vedaranyam and Adirampattinam are worst affected, but enough relief material has reached these places over the past one week. However, many of the interior villagers of Thanjavur and Tiruvarur villages remain cut off even now.”

“This is mainly because relief material is being taken away by people who live on the road sides and in front of the villages,” he said.

“People from Marungulam village in Thanjavur who are worst affected by cyclone were very disciplined,” said city-based sociologist A Prabaharan, “but there were also people who were disappointed and frustrated over not getting relief material for close to two weeks.”

“Such disappointment is obvious when people who are used to giving food to others but pushed to the extent to beg for food. Focus should now be to rehabilitate them in the best way possible,” he said.

On Monday, T Vethaiyan, 35, of Kathiripulam village in Nagapattinam district, petitioned the collector seeking escort for vehicles taking relief material to his village. He accused that people from Sembodai south village block the relief materials before it could reach their village.

“We even tried to go as a group to Nagapattinam to escort vehicles with relief material to our village, but could not prevent it from getting distributed to villages on the way,” said Vethaiyan.

“They will not allow even a single vehicle to reach our village,” said Vethiyan. “In such circumstance we have no other way but to come to the main roads seeking for relief material,” he said.

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