The tall claims of the government&’s reaching out to the poor and distressed by way of innumerable social security schemes fall flat on the face of 60-year-old widow Kanchanabala Gachhyat and her son Ratikanta, who is mentally challenged.
Living under a damaged tarpaulin sheet, she is a telling example of how the promises made on a daily basis and, still worse, assurances after the cyclonic storm Phailin and floods destroying their house two years ago,remain elusive till date.
The two, belonging to Rangpani village in Mayurbhanj district had lost all that they had in the storm and floods. The village close to Budhabalanga village. Kanchanbala struggles to speak. Her husband was a victim of Phailin as he got buried when her house collapsed. The government had promised house building assistance, relief, old age/widow pension etc. Nothing came her way.
“I have not got anything despite repeated pleas to the local elected representatives and government officers,” she said.
“The government had given a tarpaulin sheet and puffed rice for a few days after the calamity. Since then, nothing else has been given. I wanted to apply for a house under the Mo Kudia scheme but the person concerned demanded bribe which I could not afford. I have told the sarpanch, panchayat samiti members and even the MLA,” said Kanchanbala, while narrating her plight.
People in Tental, Rangpani, Chandanpur and five other villages near river Budhabalanga are yet to receive the relief and rehabilitation measures that had been promised since the Phailin storm of 2013.
Middlemen and a few unscrupulous government employees had apparently botched up the entire postcyclone and flood relief operations.
Manoranjan Sethy, the local MLA admitted the problem of the Phailin affected people in his constituency. He promised that he to meet the people in these areas door to door and appraise the government. Sethy said he has directed the block development officer to meet the widow Kanchanbala and help her.
All this when the MLA was contacted and asked about it. But what was the government and its officers doing all this while is the question that people of the affected villages ask.