Donors are uncertain about the fate of their hard-earned money following a surfeit of ‘relief funds’ for victims of flash floods. Agencies are accordingly encouraging help in kind, not cash.
The apprehension coincided with the demand of anti-graft activist Anna Hazare’s Janatantra Morcha for accountability of ‘public money’ going into the aid.
“My friends and I managed to raise a handsome amount for the victims. But there’s this fear of the money going into the wrong hands,” said Vaibhav Sharma, a Gurgaon-based assurance auditor.
Mumbai-based filmmaker Bela Negi, who hails from Uttarakhand, echoed similar sentiments. “The lack of transparency in India made our group buy waterproof tents for getting them delivered directly to the affected areas,” she said.
Some organisations have invited donors, sceptical about ‘middlemen’, to find out how their money was being used. “We are asking donors to be involved,” said Sunny Jindal, member of a Delhi-based NGO active in Uttarakhand.
Others like Rohit Singh Rana of a Dehradun-based club are discouraging donations in cash to kill suspicion. “We are inviting relief materials in kind like blankets, torches and batteries for delivering to the victims,” he said.
Officials were ambiguous about transparency in funds collection. “Police should take action in case of any irregularity,” Bhaskaranand Joshi, the state’s disaster management secretary, said.
On June 22, Hazare’s Morcha trained 200 volunteers from Uttarakhand at Noida for taking the RTI route to ensuring accountability of aid for the Uttarakhand victims.
Aid pours in but rots in camps
Rishikesh/Dehradun: Over 2,000 villages in remote areas of Uttarakhand have no access to food or drinking water. But, a few hundred kilometres downstream, relief material is piling up and rotting in the pouring rain.
In Dehradun, Rishikesh and Hardwar, unsuspecting passersby are being bombarded with food packets, mineral water bottles or tetra packs of fruit juice without anyone bothering to ask if they need them at all. “Many people want to donate things but don’t have resources to send them to distant areas, so they just dump it here,” said a relief camp organiser in Rishikesh.
By Sidhartha Roy