Six months after the devastating Kerala floods, nearly 21,000 families in Kochi are yet to be compensated by the state government for their damaged houses. Many of these families have been turning up at the Collectorate to demand their flood relief aid, officials revealed.
For the past one week, scores of people were observed waiting in long queues at the redressal cell of the Kochi Collectorate to demand compensation. It even created panic among officials when a woman who was waiting in the queue collapsed due to exhaustion. Following this, the people were shifted to the AC conference hall. It was here that the officials figured that many of those waiting for compensation were in fact new applicants, and hence won't be entitled for relief.
"“We were keen to find why more and more people were turning up these days to the redressal cell. Only in the meeting did we find that most of the people had come with new application forms to be included in the list of people whose house were destroyed,” P D Sheela Devi, disaster management deputy collector, told TNM.
According to the district administration, 86,341 families who had partially or wholly damaged houses were approved for flood relief aid. Out of these relief has been distributed to 64,903 families, leaving a little over than 21,000 families yet to receive aid.
Explaining the delay in handing over compensation, Sheela Devi said, "The distribution of the cash has been stalled since the elections were announced. We were not being able to get the balance amount required to give to the flood struck as bills were not getting passed,” said Sheela Devi.
While those who had submitted their applications previously and had been approved will received money within May 2019, District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla said that new applicants will not be eligible for relief aid.
"About 70 percent of the flood relief distribution is over in the district. The rest of the people who are in the list will also receive money within May 2019. There are no options for people to give applications again to get the financial aid. We had received appeals regarding documentation of damage that has been rectified. No other application will be received again,” said Safirulla.
As per the rehabilitation system devised by the State administration post floods, compensation will be dispensed based on the level of damage to the houses. So a house which has sustained 15 percent damages will be entitled to Rs 10,000 as flood relief, while a 29 percent damage will receive Rs 60,000.
Several residents have now come forward to claim that the damage analysis done was not accurate, and that several houses had sustained more damage than what was recorded in the data, and therefore deserved greater compensation.
Countering this, P D Sheela Devi, Disaster Management Deputy Collector, said “We had kept time for people to raise appeals in the documentation of destroyed houses. About 30,000 appeals were given and we rechecked the houses before starting the distribution of relief fund".
According to officials of the district administration Rs 26 crore has now been sanctioned to be distributed to the rest of the people in the list whose house have been partially damaged.