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A year after quake, families await government aid

By Peerzada Arshad Hamid

Oct 07, 2006:

Punjab Begum
Punjab Begum sits outside her tent in Kalsa Ghati Uri
A year after the devastating earthquake brought his house down, Farid Khan lives with his wife Punjab Begum in a tent in Kalsa Ghati Uri. An asthmatic Farid Khan could not build a shed from the tin sheets provided by the aid group Actionaid.

"The tent was arranged for us by our son in law who works as a contractor with the Beacon." says Punjab Begum.

The couple is worried that they cannot live like this for ever and will have to return the tent to Beacon soon.

A permanent shelter seems a distant dream for this couple who received no aid from the government.

"We were not enlisted for the aid. Our names did not appear anywhere," says disgusted Begum.

"We don't know why we were left out" She adds.

In Kalsa Ghati there are many others with complaints of being dropped from the aid list. Khak Hussain, a widow is one among them. She heads a family of 16 including her children and grand children and lives in a makeshift house constructed recently.

"I was not given any instalment. My name was not listed by the officials. Even after the intervention of the court (Lok Adalal) I have not received anything," Hussain said.

Though the SDM Uri personally visited Khak Hussain's house on the directions of the Lok Adalat, she says she is till to receive anything.

The villagers say that at least 30 families in the village have been dropped. Sarwardin a resident explains,

"The officials came and listed some large families as one. While one brother was listed for aid others were dropped".

Syed Muneer another resident adds that corruption and negligence were also the factors.

"The field officials dropped some names only to keep provision for bribes. They dropped some names, listed others, depending on the commission provided to them," says Muneer.

Muneer has received the first instalment of government aid but his mother who lives separately with other members of the family did not.

Similarly, Khatija another widow in the village has not received any amount as compensation.

Khatija had to fend for her five kids after her husband Bagh Hussain died in a landmine blast in 1995. He was working as porter with the Indian army and was returning home when he stepped on a planted IED along with two other men.

Khatija has managed to construct the makeshift tin shed with the help of neighbours but there was none to pursue her case for compensation.

"I hardly manage to feed my kids. How come can I go after the village heads and government officials for the aid? My neighbours have their own worries, how can they help me," said Khatija. Residents complain the government aid was inadequate in the first place and dropping some families has added to the problem.

The government promised INR 100,000, for the houses categorised as fully damaged and provided first instalment of INR 40,000. No one in the village has received the much awaited second instalment of INR 60,000.

For houses categorised as partially damaged the government approved INR 30,000.

However many families complain that the compensation sanctioned is meagre and they need to pull down the entire structure rather than doing the repairs.

"See my House. It has been categorised as partially damaged, but it is not worth living. It has to be brought down," says Sadiq Hussain a resident of Chullan.

Jalil Ahmad, an aid worker says that it's perilous to reside in the partially damaged structures and they need to be reconstructed afresh.

"Though many of the people have started to take shelter inside the damaged houses after doing some patch work but it is highly dangerous," Jalil said.

Also Read: Quake prone reconstructions pave way for another disaster

              Kashmir Separatists: Divided we stand


Kashmir Newz Specials
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Click here to read this story. For reproduction rights contact Kashmir Newz Desk

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