From: Earthquake Update/Appeal No. 6 09 February 2001
Update from Update from SAMERTH
A lot of relief material was reaching the villages, initially the big-roadside villages and cities, and later with the help of NGOs and even the police some relief materials were diverted to the smaller villages. The far flung hamlets were also supported by NGOs. Now the individual philanthrophists are withdrawing but the institutional supporters (NGOs) are still working. This is the initial symptoms of how quickly the emotionally charged people can come in and go out.
As regard institutional supporters there are a lot of NGOs and religious trusts that are working in all the affected blocks. As of now they are providing primary relief (food, plastic sheets, clothing, blankets) but the main focus in on food grains. As regard International organisations and NGOs there are 25 (plus Swiss aid) of them presently doing assessment and providing relief. Action Aid has taken a different approach and is getting into providing Psycho-social support to the widows and orphans. Actionaid is also planning to associate with Oxfan India (the indian offshoot of Oxfam GB, which has no linkage with Oxfam) to expand the coverage to all affected families. Action aid is opening psycho-social support camps in village centres which is christened as SNEH KENDRA. (Affection Centre) As of now they have started one in Moti-chirai village which is on the highway and between Bachau and Gandhidham.
Government and Corporate Involvement:
Several state governments and business houses have come forward to adopt villages in Kutch but have not made their strategies clear. As of now the Haryana government in collaboration with a trading group of Haryana called Sacha Sauda (Fair Trade) has adopted 32 villages in Rapar. Similarly, ZEE Network (a TV cable company) has adopted Samakhiyali. Reliance has also adopted Anjar proper.
Now the government as well as the people are involved in removing the debris in the villages. Some companies are supporting this effort. For example the Kandla Port Trust (KPT) has issued a tender that any truck company can remove the debri in Gandhidham and Adipur and the trust will reimburse the costs at the rate of Rs 70 per tonne.
Indian Army;'s commendable role:
As regard health facilities, the Indian Army is doing a commendable job by starting medical camps at several places. Further, the health related NGOs and organisations have started medical camps and have put mobile services. The staff of the municipal corporation is now put to look after the sanitation facilities in the cities. However, the sanitation aspect is pretty bad. Oxfam GB is planning a major integrated public health system in some of the villages.
The drinking water situation is bad but improving. Initially, the Army was supplying water but now the water supply board has started tankering water to the villages. But there are a few problems around this. Firstly the water stroage tanks in the villages have collapsed or damaged and hence the trucks are not able to unload water in the villages. Secondly because of the disturbance in the geo-hydrological structure many tube-well have failed. The government has started drilling new tube wells in some select villages. Oxfam GB has is working with the water supply board and is putting up collapsible water tanks in the villages. the arrangement is like oxfam will put up tanks in the affected villages where the water supply board suggests. we on our part discussed this with oxfam and talked about the smaller villages. Finally oxfam has agreed to put some smaller tanks in some of the villages as per our suggestion. Further, we have also distributed some jerry kens in some villages and intend to distribute a few water tanks. AS of now oxfam has put two tanks of 11000 litres each-one in Adhoi and one in Kanthkot villages of Bachau blocks.
The government has started distributing cash doles to the families. The amount varies from Rs 600 to Rs 2000 depending upon the number of the family size. This cash doles is just for survival purposes and has nothing to do with compensation money.
Packed Food related Health Problems:
The ready to eat food packets is creating a lot of health and hygiene problem and is now just being thrown away. Secondly, the food grains that are coming from other states (wheat flour, rice) is not the staple food of kutch. It is not properly used therefore. People need Bajri (Millet). The kinds of clothes (pants, frocks, tops etc) are culturally different and therefore are juct thrown away or dumped by the people. No one has till now provided culturally accepted and practiced clothes. Even Oxfam GB has got Skirts and tops and jeans pants.
16,000 people may have lost their limbs:
16000 people has lost their limbs due to injury by the earthquake. Now they are in the hospitals in Ahmedabad, Patan, Mehsana Radhanpur and all but after a few days they might not get the post operative treatments. 4500 children have become orphans (these two figures are quoted from the newspaper).
Aftershocks and Trauma:
The aftershocks are continuing and is putting everyone in some sort of mental trauma. A lot of psycho-somatic cases may be detected in the future. Infact there was a medium tremor yesterday in the afternoon and due to it many buildings that were damaged have collapsed now. This was followed by another tremor in the night at about 10.30 PM. This tremor was felt all over gujarat. Since we are in Ahmedabad today are the communication system has failed in kutch we had to rely on the TV. This morning news was mentioning that due to yesterday's tremor a few more people have been injured in Gandhidham and the TV could not make any contact with other places. People in Ahmedabad and other cities after sleeping on the pavements for more than a week had started to go to their houses but yesterdays tremor has created so much scare that everyone is now back on the streets.
We have started distributing relief in the villages. SAMERTH is working in about 22 villages alongside the Rann.
Villages without Expat Contact Neglected:
Please note that the situation is very fluid and dynamic. Every moment there are new developments happening in terms of governments, international bodies and religious trusts, corporate bodies announcing several plans and one has to take a very cautious approach. From our field experience we can sort of make out that the villages which has families living outside the state (Mumbai, Europe, US etc) will receive a lot of help apart from the government but the villages having no such contacts like the poor Koli, Rabari and Harijan villages will face a lot of difficulty. We will focus on such villages.
Government Compensation Package:
The government is going to announce its compensation package in a short while. we need to wait to see what package it offers and then plan out our concrete intervention plan. we are attaching a separate document showing the list of villages.