In Kodagu, govt is failing

Naseer, owner of the Riviera, the spring arc resort, seen after the recent land slide, on Jodupala, in Kodagu. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

When disaster struck Kodagu in August in the form of floods and landslides, the district administration and the state government acted with amazing speed and unusual efficiency in launching search, rescue and relief operations, but the same enthusiasm seems lacking when it comes to rehabilitating the affected people. Unprecedented rains had wreaked havoc on the northern parts of the district claiming 18 lives, flattening over 2,500 houses and completely destroying thousands of acres of cultivated land. While the affected people have received a dole of Rs 3,500 for daily subsistence, the much-promised compensation is nowhere in sight. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who had sought a grant from the Centre of Rs 2,500 crore, now upped to Rs 3,500 crore, had given an assurance that the district will be rebuilt on a ‘better-than-before’ basis, but there is no evidence on ground to show that things are moving in this direction. The inordinate delay in the release of funds by the Centre, despite several representations by the state government, has not helped matters either.

Given the limited resources, district in-charge Minister SaRa Mahesh, who has been leading from the front, and Deputy Commissioner PI Sreevidya have done a remarkable job so far, but a masterplan for the comprehensive redevelopment of the affected areas does not appear to be in place as the current approach is to tide over the immediate crisis through short-term, piecemeal patchwork. An all-inclusive plan, detailing funds required under different heads like reconstruction of houses, hospitals and schools, will enable the state government to petition the Centre on a scientific basis, instead of presenting vague, unsubstantiated figures and returning empty-handed. Now, Congress MP and former union minister M Veerappa Moily has, after touring the district, demanded Rs 10,000 crore from the Centre, which is a clear indication that no technical analysis has been made of the fund requirement.

A holistic approach will not only pave the way for a concerted effort by different departments and enable better apportioning of funds, but also give greater confidence to philanthropists that their money is going to the right cause. Karnataka, unlike Kerala, has also failed to ‘showcase’ the enormity of the Kodagu devastation to the world, which is why it is not able to attract private funds. Alongside, the government should also speed up the process of compensation, because the people have lost their only source of livelihood—agriculture. The zest that it showed in relief operations should be on display in rehabilitation, too, so that the people who have faced their worst-ever crisis, can quickly get their lives together and move on.

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