INDO ASIAN NEWS SERVICE, AUGUST 18, 2006
Bhopal, Aug 18 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s announcement of a Disaster Management Authority to provide immediate relief to the flood-hit has had quite the counter effect with even his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) colleagues mocking him for it.
‘The details for constituting a Disaster Management Authority would be worked out in a month,’ the chief minister declared earlier this week after visiting flood-hit areas in this state capital.
But the problem is immediate with about 75 people being killed in heavy rains that have lashed Bhopal and surrounding areas since Sunday.
Asked an indignant leader of Chouhan’s BJP: ‘The problem is staring at you in the face and you are talking about something that will take months to take concrete shape. What about the present?’
For former chief minister Uma Bharati, who broke away from the BJP to form the Bharatiya Janashakti (BJ) party, Chouhan’s announcement gives her the ammunition she needs.
‘If the government fails to provide succour to the flood victims in 24 hours, BJ workers led by their state president Raghunandan Sharma will demonstrate outside the state secretariat,’ she said.
‘Disaster management is thought of and done in advance and not after the problem has assumed epidemic proportions,’ said Bharati, who reached Bhopal after touring flood affected areas.
Charging the government with doing nothing to redress the grievances of the ‘have-nots’ uprooted by the deluge, she added: ‘See their plight. They are starving and this government has not been able to provide them food and shelter. It is worse than Congress rule. I am shocked.’
While unofficial estimates put the death toll of the floods at 75, including about 15 in Bhopal alone, and 12 missing, the government admits to only 63 dead with 10 missing.
‘Over 1,000 cattle are also reported dead and 27,488 houses have been fully or partially damaged following heavy rains that have lashed most parts of the state since Sunday night,’ said an official.
Scores of villages in Hoshangabad, Guna and Balaghat districts are still surrounded by floodwaters.
About 40,000 people have taken shelter in relief camps put up by the administration across the state. And with the weather office predicting more rains, their woes are only going to deepen.
In such a scenario, Chouhan’s announcement of permanent authority that will come into effect much, much later is just too little too late.