12th February, 2001
This is further to our earlier appeal for support. The dust is beginning to settle and a clearer picture of the ground reality is emerging. Our field reports indicate that barring tents there is a surplus of relief material, though in many places there are acute distribution problems. The state machinery is functioning with its normal apathy and lethargy, and unlike the Orissa govt. who were quick to announce a reasonably comprehensive compensation package the Gujarat govt. is yet to declare its intentions. This is leading to a sense of fear and despondency among the poor, already shell-shocked rural population.
Through SETU ( our associates based in Ahmedabad ) we have identified 26 villages in rural Kutch (Rapar block) and Saurashta (Jodiya block of Jamnagar District) where 90% of homes have been reduced to rubble. These villages are predominantly inhabited by Dalits, Kolis (Scheduled Tribes), Muslims and Rabaris (pastoralists). These communities come from the poorer sections of the society and are essentially agricultural labourers, salt pan workers and casual labourers. Unlike other rich sections of the people who are receiving aid and assistance from foreign countries, these people are left to fend for themselves. The villages are also remote and hardly any assistance by the government is reaching them.
SETU has provided interim relief in terms of food, tents and blankets. Now we are planning to a major rehabilitation intervention in terms of rebuilding houses. Based on the experience in Orissa, we will assist a 'Food for Work' programme wherein a. The affected families would contribute their labour for construction of their houses and we would provide rations for the construction period. b. Efforts would be made to retrieve as much building material from the debris and we will provide the shortfall amount. c. Government assistance (whenever announced) will be tapped to the fullest extent possible.
We / SETU are also getting in touch with experts for quake resistant housing in conformity with local requirements.
Based on existing rough estimates, the cost of rebuilding each house would work out to be Rs 15,000 (not including labour donated by people). We look forward to your generous contribution for helping the poorest of poor quake affected people.
With best wishes