R LESTER MAKANG UKHRUL, 8th May:
Even after keeping their patience in waiting for almost a year, thousands of storm-affected inhabitants of the district are still left high and dry as the government continued to delay the distribution of disaster relief assistance which is said to be in process since around the middle of 2017.
Last year, around pre-monsoon period, a large number of homesteads and swathes of agricultural fields and farmlands were badly ravaged by a series of heavy rain-storms and subsequent landslides that swept across Ukhrul township and villages in the district.
In the aftermath of the calamities, sub-divisional offices concerned had conducted spot inspections and had gathered relevant official reports of the same.
Following the disasters, many star-crossed families whose homesteads were sunken due to rain triggered landslides, had to arrange themselves and evacuate to makeshift shelters, while scores of farmers in villages had to lose out on the yearly crop harvest where they had put in their hard labour as their fields/farmlands were either inundated or washed away by rain water.
"We have not received even a single rupee as relief assistance from the government till date," related a resident of Ukhrul town Zingthan whose homestead was devastated by rainstorms last year, while adding that now with the pre-monsoon rain-storms already beginning to strike again, his family is very much worried about the safety of their homestead which needs proper retaining wall for protection from another landslide.
He said that his family managed to quickly put up a makeshift shelter at a safer side of his homestead, but cannot afford to shift to another place.
Another victim of last year's calamities on condition of anonymity told The People's Chronicle that their family members wish to build a new shelter before the monsoon arrives but have not been able to do so due to poverty.
When The People's Chronicle contacted the Sub Division Office Ukhrul on Tuesday, an official of the revenue section disclosed that the process of identification, approval and compilation of the names of affected households/applicants in the district has been completed sometimes back. The official, however, stated that they have been unable to distribute the relief assistance to the storm-hit victims because they are yet to receive allocation of the relief funds for the district from the head office at Imphal.
"It is learnt that some districts in the valley have been provided the relief funds for distribution to the victims in their respective subdivisions," the official further informed and wondered as to why the government has not allocated the same to Ukhrul as yet.
A few days earlier, when The People's Chronicle enquired about the delay in distribution of relief aid, Ukhrul DC Harmit Singh Pahuja had said that he was helpless as the authorities concerned had not sanctioned the funds.