In the CM’s native village, supporters are happy and sheltered, and opponents disgruntled and roofless. Most of the people whose houses were damaged last monsoon have cried partiality in the distribution of compensation. Many of the eligible are off the list, and the ineligible on it.
An official survey counted 258 affected households in the village that have been paid Rs 10,000 each. On Friday, the villagers excluded from the list gathered outside government primary school, and raised slogans against the government. The discontented claimed that many of them were opponents of Akali sarpanch and a key member of the panchayat.
Villager Laxman Singh, who lost his kutcha house in the rains, is the driver of Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, Congress candidate from the Lambi constituency, who had opposed chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the latest state elections.
Chotta Singh, Jagdish Lal, Hira Lal, Jagseer Singh, Nachattar Singh, Mohinder Pal and many other villagers are out of the compensation scheme, even when their damaged houses haven’t been rebuilt.
Many families not touched by the flood have claimed a bulk of the relief money. Irfan Khan of Badal village is a government employee but all three members of his family (mother, Sufia Begum; brother, Imran Khan; and brother-in-law, Sabit Ali) have claimed compensation.
A member of the panchayat confirmed that their names were on the list but denied issuing them any cheques. Panchayat secretary Resham Singh could not be contacted but Durga Singh, sarpanch of Badal village agreed to speak over telephone. “I am unaware of the matter,” he said, “I will touch the feet of the villagers waiting for relief (a sign of apology). The cheques issued can't be reclaimed but we’ll remake the list.”
“The names of many ineligible people were put on the list in the survey by the panchayat secretary,” said Sukhdev Singh, member of the panchayat. “Many people signed up more than once, and some others registered their entire clan as affected. We’ll do the survey all over again.”