More than three months after Leh was struck by a cloudburst, the promise of relief and rehabilitation work by NGOs and other private bodies has in many cases remained just that — a promise.
The flash floods and landslides on August 4 killed an estimated 234 people. Over 630 houses were destroyed.
Samarpan, an NGO, promised to build 500 houses — but has constructed two. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a non-governmental body, had set a target of constructing 13 structures. Only two have been built, officials said.
“Had the NGOs worked with sincerity they would have helped the government,” deputy commissioner of Leh P Angchok said. “But they proved to be a liability.”
About 32 organisations, including government bodies, had come forward to help the state.
A Samarpan spokesperson, however, denied these allegations. “We didn’t get any support from the district administration or the Army (in relief work),” the spokesperson said. “Also, we had not set any timeframe (to complete the work).”
Government officials refuted this argument. “NGOs, especially Samarpan, were provided all assistance. Even engineers were deputed with them. But the result was a big zero,” said Shahid Choudhary, an IAS officer deputed by the government to oversee relief work in Leh. “The matter was brought to the notice of the CM also,” he said.
Two persons from a non-governmental industrial federation sent for relief work reportedly stayed in one of the best hotels in Leh for more than a month. “The tariff at the hotel is R6,000 per day,” an official said. “With these charges, the federation could have built two homes.”
Most relief work by NGOs — providing blankets and other aid — was confined to Chuglamsar village (near Leh), the worst-affected area.
Due to “haphazard” distribution, a few families got more than seven blankets while many didn’t get any. “...We got nothing from the NGOs,” said T. Wangchoo, a resident of Chuglamsar, whose home was washed away. “Had the government not shown sincerity I wonder what would have been our fate in the harsh winter.”