YourSpace: Flood-affected residents need timely financial assistance
Flash floods that hit the state damaged farms and houses of many villagers. Politicians paid visits, but locals, however, branded these visits as “flood tourism”. Are visits to disaster-affected areas a key part of politicians easing the burdens of the suffering, or, merely vote-bank photo ops? Residents share views...Updated: Oct 26, 2020, 16:32 IST
Farmers used for elections and forgotten
These natural calamities strike farmers every year, every season. It is not a new phenomenon because agriculture is still dependent and destroyed by rains in this country even after many technological advancements. Politicians come and go, but no government has ensured how to ensure that losses are paid to farmers easily and timely. Farmers even today are used as an election issue and these visits come on the face of elections or as a tactic to attack the ruling party. A few days after the visit the situation is still the same and the state of farmers remain unchanged. If only every visit by elected representatives and politicians resulted in some change on ground, farmers today would have lived a much better life.
Mental support important during distress
When natural disaster strikes, the victims become hopeless and lose faith as their hard work lies worthless in front of them. However, in case of such visits by politicians, we can also see that meeting local leaders, not just politicians but government officials, might prove as a sense of relief for distraught farmers. This mental support is also important. However, due to the current situation, the heavy presence of media, photo ops and social media might seem like politicians are taking undue advantage in the form of flood tourism. But I would say that it is important that the government machinery, including officials and ministers, visit the place immediately to gauge the damage caused by the calamity and also ensure that the administration works properly to provide all necessary help.
Government must provide immediate monetary help
In this disaster situation, no party should make it a political issue. Farmers are already distressed and are desperate for help. The connectivity with villages is affected and so help reaches late. There are children and elderly who are most affected during such natural disasters. Farmers have their entire families dependent on them and, in addition to this, their produce lies damaged and wasted. The government should appoint a special officer and a team to make the entire process easy right from filing a panchnama and get help. Help must be provided not just for the loss, but also immediate relief, including food and immediate assistance. The government must provide immediate monetary help and not delay and make the farmer run from pillar to post. The government must set aside a dedicated fund because such disasters are a routine nowadays.
Visits only photo ops
Experts have already conveyed to the administrator as well as to the minister about the cause of the flood. For years they have been talking about encroachment on rivers, streams. Concretisation has stopped groundwater recharging which has dropped the water level. When politicians are aware encroachment is a problem and instead of solving it but paying visits are useless. Politicians should focus on removing encroachment and take care of clean flowing river streams. It is time to wake up and focus on citizen’s welfare and sustainable development. Such visits only seem like a mere vote bank photo op.
Relief to affected farmers are delayed
Indian economy majorly depends on agriculture. The basis of livelihood of rural households is agriculture. Agriculture provides employment to majority of population. And agriculture depends on rains. Even though the country has made many advances in improving agriculture production and conservation, the dependence on seasonal rains is a major factor for sustenance. The usual picture when natural disasters strike is the visit by elected members, politicians and their supporters. While the affected farmers and their families look upon them as their saviours, many are left disappointed. The visitors come, announce promises and leave. Most of the times, the compensation and relief announced at the media event remain on paper. Farmers are left to pick up the pieces and carry on with their lives.
Take steps to mitigate losses
I think farmers are generally taken for granted. Though they are provided exemptions for farming and related activities, many end up not being the beneficiaries. A recent order stated that all agricultural, horticultural activities and those relating to harvesting, transportation, procurement, mandis, farming operations and the like are exempted from the lockdown. The damage to homes and farms in the recent flash floods due to heavy rains have badly affected the farmers who were already overburdened with the economic strain due to coronavirus situation. In these difficult times, the visits by political leaders should bring a ray of hope. While compensation packages announced by authorities do benefit them, steps should be taken to find ways to mitigate the losses caused by natural phenomenon like rains and floods.