Sensing people’s anger if there are slip-ups in distributing flood relief, their grassroots representatives have gone into hiding following the cyclone and flood.
People in many villages are angry because they went to cyclone shelters after their sarpanches assured them there was enough food and water, but it turned to be mostly hollow talk.
“We reached the shelter homes on Friday evening but no food — cooked or dry — was served to us till late at night and when it was given, it was too meagre. The same thing happened on Saturday,” said Sarada Patra of T Nuagaon village.
He said the same was the experience of about 4,000 people, including the old, women and children, of A Nuagaon, T Nuagaon, K Nuagaon villages under Ganja block of Ganjam district.
After coming out of the shelters on Sunday afternoon to find their houses and properties devastated, irritated villagers looked for their sarpanches but could not find them. On Monday, they spotted one of them and locked him up in a room.
Villagers of Barkul in Chilka clean their houses after returning home on Monday morning in Odisha. Meanwhile, villagers are angry with sarpanches for their apathy towards the affected residents. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A sarpanch said: “It is not our fault. We wanted to help these people but the problem is after the cyclone blew over, the district-level officials also went missing, leaving the people to fend for themselves.”
However, the sarpanches played a vital role in evacuating people to safer places, thereby helping the state government to contain casualties.
Government officials such as block development officers and tehsildars sought their help to convince villagers to go to cyclone shelters.
Odisha revenue and disaster management minister SN Patra said there was enough food in the shelters.
A district-level official said there was food but distribution was a big problem.