The situation in Orissa's riot-hit Kandhamal district continues to be volatile on Tuesday with at least 80 houses being torched in fresh violence, as the government accelerated relief and rehabilitation efforts for which Rs two crore has been sanctioned. A high-level team of officials, including Home Secretary T K Mishra and Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda, visited the violence-scarred district to review the situation and assess the extent of damage, official sources said. The visit was to work out strategies for containing arson and violence in the communally-sensitive district as well as stepping up relief and rehabilitation operations for the affected, they said. At least 80 houses were torched in fresh arson in several villages of Tikabali and Sarangada areas since Monday noon despite considerable improvement in situation that prompted authorities to suspend day curfew, the sources said. Describing force scarcity as a big handicap in containing arson, Inspector General of Police, Intelligence, R P Singh, said only 2,500 personnel from various forces including CRPF were available to combat violence in villages across the district. "As the arson continues to trouble rural pockets, there is only one jawan to tackle the situation in every village," a senior police officer pointed out. Several women were also seen indulging in arson at some places, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division, Satyabrata Sahu said, adding more measures were being taken to tackle the situation. "What made the task of security forces difficult was continued violence in rural and inaccessible areas and hilly terrains in the tribal-dominated district," said R P Singh.
However, the situation was now effectively under control and fast returning to normal, said another official. As many as 19,000 riot-affected people were sheltered in relief centres set up in ten out of 12 blocks in the district, Sahu said, adding such camps were set up in all areas except Kotagada and Khajuripada. While people continue to pour into relief camps, a large number of victims of communal violence had come all the way to the state capital in search of safety and security. They have been accommodated at the YMCA here with arrangements for food and other necessities, sources said. Out of Rs two crore sanctioned by the state government for the Kandhamal, half the amount will be handed over to district administration for relief, while the remaining amount will be given to Orissa State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA), sources said. The administration was directed to submit a report of damages, in violences following the August 23 killing of VHP leader swami Laxmananda Saraswati, at the earliest as a high-level team of officials visited the district today to assess and inspect relief work, they said. Adequate attention was being given to health care service, safe drinking water and sanitation while carrying out rehabilitation of riot victims, the sources said.