Central aid pales before people's generosity

Central aid pales before people's generosity

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa collecting funds for flood victims at  Avenue Road in Bangalore on Wednesday. Ministers Shobha Karandlaje, Ramachandra Gowda, Katta Subramanya Naidu and Ananth Kumar, MP, look on. DH Photo/ B H ShivakumarThe Centre released its second instalment of the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) in advance for the year 2009-2010, amounting to a mere Rs 52.26 crore for Karnataka. The money released by the Centre is routine aid available to Karnataka under the CRF. By its miserly, bureaucratic approach, the Centre, in the words of some state party leaders, “failed to rise to the occasion” when faced with an “extraordinary situation”.

The fund’s advance relief has been done in view of the on-going relief operations in the two states which also suffered largescale drought this year. The floods in north Karnataka have been unprecedented. Hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless after the floods which have killed nearly 200 people across 14 districts in north Karnataka.

In the light of the scale and magnitude of the devastation wrought by the flood, the Centre’s aid contribution appears to be paltry when compared to the people’s spontaneous act of donating towards relief and rehabilitation. In an overwhelming gesture of solidarity and act of giving to the hapless, helpless and homeless fellow citizens, Bangaloreans opened their purse strings during Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s two-hour fund collection drive in the City’s central business district on Wednesday.

The contribution came in cash and kind, from the rich and the not-so-rich, the young and the old. Thousands queued up along the narrow roads of Balepet and Chikpet as Yeddyurappa and several of his Cabinet colleagues and City legislators moved in a jeep, pleading for donations from small and large businesses.

Even members of the general public gave generously. An old woman took out a wad of currency notes from her saree palloo and with a smile put them into the donation box carried by Minister Suresh Kumar. A coconut vendor parted with Rs 150 and a middle-aged man gave away his gold chain.

The two-hour show of unity, resulted in collection of Rs 14 crore in form of cheques and demand drafts (DDs) and more than Rs four lakh in cash. Over the last two days, commitment letters from various corporate and social organisations have come in large numbers, promising Rs 500 crore aid mostly in the form building houses or adopting villages for rehabilitation.

Moved by the people’s expression of sympathy, Yeddyurappa said: “The people of the state have set an example for the entire country. I hope the message also reaches the Centre.”

The chief minister commenced the yatra around 11:30 am after offering pooja at the Anjaneyaswami temple at Mysore Bank Circle and the convoy passed through the old business hub of the city including Avenue Road, Chikpet and Balepet.

Hundreds of daily wagers who make a living by working at the wholesale establishments in the locality parted with their savings towards the CM’s Relief Fund. Various traders associations too were contributed. The Karnataka Garment Association presented a cheque for Rs 4.5 lakh, the Electrical Merchants Association (Rs 10 lakh),  Bangalore Switchgear Manufacturers Association (Rs 1.71 lakh).

Many traders also offered bundles of new clothes, mattresses, food packets and some even offered to volunteer help by working at the relief camps. As the assemblage reached KG Road, Yeddyurappa got down from the open jeep and walked down the last leg of the yatra back to Mysore Bank Circle followed by thousands.

Later, Yeddyurappa said the public contribution would be utilised for constructing houses. In all, Rs 3,000 crore was required for constructing three lakh houses, he said.

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