People in confused, anguished over flood relief norms

People waiting to register for flood relief at a fair price shop in Saligramam on Sunday.
| Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Do we get flood relief or not is a question that is on the minds of people in the city affected by Cyclone Michaung.

After having borne the brunt of the cyclone, the residents are questioning why tokens were not being given to every ration card holder and the rationale behind sugar card holders not getting the relief amount of ₹6,000.

V.S. Jayaraman of T. Nagar said many rice card holders had returned disappointed as they had not been given tokens. Even officials of the Civil Supplies Department are unable to provide any information why many rice cardholders have not been given tokens, he said. “Both sugar and rice card holders must be treated on a par,” he said.

Many fair price shops witnessed queues on Sunday. Shops on Theagaraya Road and Mambalam High Road ration shops had people coming in to collect application forms without knowing the procedure and had only other residents to rely on to fill in the applications.

An elderly woman, who has a sugar-only card and applied for relief, had to make several trips as the application form did not specify the documents she must attach. When she submitted the form, the shopkeeper said she would have to attach photocopies of her Aadhaar, smart card (old ration books are not accepted), and a copy of the first page of her bank passbook. She had to go back home to get the documents.

T. Gunaseelan, of Ambattur, said fair price shopkeepers in his area asked him to come after a few days when the crowds reduced. “People believe that if they are affected they must get relief. The government must further clarify and keep local body representatives in the loop,” he said.

C.R. Sekar, a resident of MMDA Colony, said instead of resorting to direct bank transfer, it was unfortunate that poor people and senior citizens were forced to stand in queues for hours on end to get a token and relief money. “As such, thousands of people have lost so many things to flood and suffered,” he lamented.

A DMK councillor of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) said there was evident dissatisfaction among the public about the way the distribution of relief had been handled. “Councillors and partymen are being unnecessarily blamed, but we weren’t given any guidelines either. No training was provided to us,” he said, on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, GCC zone-1 ward committee chairman T.M. Thaniarasu said for those with changed addresses or ration cards, public distribution system employees were checking houses street-wise and issuing tokens accordingly. “There are 75,000 people in zone 1, including factory workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Applications are also being given to those without ration cards,” he said.

The Government Order (G.O.) issued by the State government states that if the head of the family is an income tax assessee, is in a senior position in the Central or State governments or in a public sector undertaking, or has sugar-only family cards, the family is not eligible for relief.

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Minister P.K. Sekarbabu said if someone had water in their house for two days and was a sugar-only card holder or had lost household goods and did not possess family cards, they could submit application forms at their respective fair price shop.

A senior official in the Food Department said affected residents desirous of relief had to submit application forms, which would be processed by the Revenue Department with support from the GCC.

“If eligible, the cash would be transferred to the respective person’s bank account,” he added.

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