Kodagu: Pilferage of supplies may hit relief camps hard

People confront Tahsildar Mahesh (extreme left) at Madapura bus stand in Somwarpet taluk to ensure food supply to rain victims.DH PHOTO / B H Shivakumar

It was a sight that rain-hit Kodagu perhaps yearned for - bright sunshine that shone for hours on Tuesday. But with it came a new post-calamity rehabilitation challenge: Pilferage of relief materials.

It was in Somwarpet, the taluk that has the most number of relief camps and highest number of inmates in the district, that things turned ugly when angry locals waylaid tahsildar P S Mahesh to confront him over alleged pilferage of relief supplies.

“Why are sacks of rice meant for the relief camp going to houses of those who weren’t affected by floods,” they asked, accosting the official in Madapura where a government school has been turned into a camp housing over 500 people.

Cornered, Mahesh told the angry people he was aware that the relief materials were getting leaked. All he could tell the locals was the Madapura relief camp would be shifted to the Somwarpet town soon.

“There’s a relief loot happening,” Madhu Bopanna, a private planter who helped set up the Madapura relief camp before the authorities took over, said. “Trucks carrying supplies have been taken to colonies by local politicians, instead of relief camps.”

Pilferage of supplies made running these relief camps difficult. “I’m fed of the inefficiency of the officials. It’s an uphill task to run these camps, where there are more problems than solutions,” Bopanna said.

Rice and other relief supplies had been stockpiled at the Smt D Chennamma Junior College, locals alleged. When DH visited the college, sacks of supplies were indeed found in a room. College principal Mandappa said they were kept there to prevent misuse. “The relief camps are running out of space. That’s why we’ve kept the supplies here. They’re meant for the relief camps only,” he said.

A similar problem unfolded in Madikeri town’s biggest relief camp - Maitree Hall, run by the police. Authorities at this camp launched a crackdown against visitors Tuesday,
asking the uninvited to leave. This relief camp houses 394 people.

“The problem is that we have people who come, take what they want and go. It’s difficult for us to keep track,” said Vishwanath, the tahsildar of the Kanakapura taluk in Ramanagara district who has been posted as the nodal officer of this relief camp. “We are now registering everyone here and issuing ID cards. Only those who’re coming here to stay will be allowed,” he said.

According to Bopanna, those lodged in relief camps will need at least six months of sustained rehabilitation. “That means relief materials will have to last till then,” he said, underlying the need for the government to put an end to leakage.

 

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Kodagu: Pilferage of supplies may hit relief camps hard

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