Residents of Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kottur, were surprised when a bunch of men came knocking at their doors on Thursday, offering them flood relief money. The residents said they were not affected by flood last month unlike those in Kotturpuram who suffered due to inundation. A resident said that the men who were distributing money took Rs.500 for themselves and gave Rs.1,500 to the residents.
However, residents of Kotturpuram, who were affected by the flood, had to resort to road roko to protest the delay in flood relief distribution. On Friday, several Kotturpuram residents were seen waiting at the Mylapore-Triplicane taluk office to get an endorsement in their family cards to avail themselves of Rs.2,000 given as flood relief. Banumathi, a resident of Ellaiamman Koil Street, said, “In our street only half the residents got the relief money.”
District Collector Mythili K. Rajendran said that enumeration was still on and those who had not received the money yet would get it in the days to come. On those not affected by the flood receiving the relief, she said the “revenue officers do not go about distributing money at people’s homes. It is necessary to establish the identity of these men.”
Residents were also confused about the procedure adopted to identify eligible beneficiaries. Officials said that they identified “low-income group areas with the help of local councillors.” However, residents said that they had no prior knowledge of revenue officers or councillors visiting their areas. A Thiruvanmiyur resident D.Subramanian said that he was not at home when the revenue officials came. “Now, I am struggling to get an endorsement in my ration card to collect the relief money,” he said.
Alwarthirunagar resident P.S. Srinivasan said, “the compound wall of my house collapsed and electronic gadgets were damaged. But my name has not been included in the list of beneficiaries.”
Several men and women gathered outside the municipality office demanding relief money on Friday.
He said that resident protests were reported in Thiruverkadu, Kaduvetti and Ponneri areas and he was aiming to complete the relief distribution work by Sunday.
(Originally published in The Hindu, Tamil Nadu edition, dated Dec 21, 2008)