Northeast in Monsoon: Raining money and the way forward.
The alleged amount of money, reportedly to be involved in the scam is estimated to be around multi-crore Indian National Rupees. As per available information, the State Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 4.15 crore during the financial year of 2016-2017 as a relief measure for the flood-hit families of the respective areas.
Geographically located on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River, Assam has been witnessing devastating effects, faced by natural calamities like floods caused due to rain in the season of monsoon. There is a certainty of receiving the highest amount of rainfall during June – July. The current assessment in the area of Northeast has revealed that the current monsoon season has broken all the records. The wettest place on the planet earth, Mawsynram recorded more than 1,000 mm of rain on June 17, the highest June rainfall the Indian Meteorological Department has ever recorded for this station. The known fact here is that the catastrophic effect caused by the monsoon floods is an annual occurrence. There is an inability on the part of the authorities to restrict or decrease the damages at the hands of the governing bodies. Since the inception of this unavoidable disaster, various promises have been made by big names, including political parties. But the inconsistency remains intact with the flood problem, to safeguard the human lives involved in the flood-affected area. It is seen that only after the devastating effect, the money pours into the various funds of government and non-governmental organizations.
The largest river island in the world, Majuli is located in the Brahmaputra River, which is witnessing erosion at a drastic level. There have been promises, but the effectiveness of the same is lacking. It is also said that natural calamities cannot be restrained but the governmental disaster management bodies only come into effect post the occurrence of the trauma. There has been a consistent effort made by politicians to safeguard their goodwill by providing minimum help at the district level. A report shows that more than 48000 people were affected due to floods on the Majuli island, last year in 2022. It is common for local people to witness boats carrying politicians and relief materials after their houses have been submerged in water. The flood-affected people seek relief that can be never met by the politicians, but still, the existence of fake hopes and unfulfilled promises makes the situation immensely grief.
During the past years, the community has witnessed an emergence of a system of funding, that comes from various sectors. However, the scrutiny of the same remains questionable. As it can be seen, no matter what comes in as a relief, it is the lives of the people that go in vain during such an event. Extremely little or no relief compensation is received by the victim. As it is evident, there exists no systemic management before the occurrence of the flood. People start acting, donating, and come into functioning only after some damages have been caused, but not before that. There exists no scientific solution for the same, as the banks of the Brahmaputra River are bound to wash away the settled civilization along with it, during the season of monsoon.
In 2018, a massive flood relief fund scam was unearthed and probed by the CID, in Assam’s South Salmara. The alleged amount of money, reportedly to be involved in the scam is estimated to be around multi-crore Indian National Rupees. As per available information, the State Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 4.15 crore during the financial year of 2016-2017 as a relief measure for the flood-hit families of the respective areas. From the evident data, it is much clear that not only officers of district and state level, but also the governmental organization is involved in the scam, as the initial sanctioning of the fund is done by the state authorities. Another flood relief fund fraud case was registered in the year 2020, when a Guwahati University student, Dipjyoti Gogoi, sought to fraudulently collect funds via a popular Facebook page in the name of the Chief Minister of Assam. Another aspect, apart from governmental authorities, are the emerging NGOs, that tend to focus on a cause and, derive money for the same. Some NGOs come forward as a helping hand, and individually, raise funds in the name of disaster management. However, the scrutiny of the same remains intact. Countless numbers of NGOs have come forward, and sometimes also at personal cum individual level, who seek to involve themselves as a helping hand for disaster management. But the issue is with the misappropriation of funds, as charity is sometimes transformed into personal gains, as seen in past cases.
The main factor, that is involved in the disaster caused by the flood, is not the monsoon season, but the technical barriers to the natural ecosystem. The most appropriate reference would be Kurichu Dam located in the tributaries of the mighty Brahmaputra River, in the country of Bhutan. Every year, since the construction of the dam, Assam has been witnessing catastrophic flood effects, caused by the water that is released by the Kurichu dam, but very less people in the media or politics talk about it. Such technologies tend to boost the economy of one country, but damage the ecosystem of another neighboring country. That is to say, now that the dam has been physically built, there is no option for reversal of the same. But the question is when the fact of the matter is quite evident, and effects of the same cannot be abstained from, what is the reason behind giving fake hopes of promises to safeguard the civilization based on the banks of the river. The much-needed effort on the part of the government has miserably failed in this case, and there is no doubt, that such a massive disaster caused by the flood will be witnessed by the state every year.
A dirty game of politics can be played by the government, and clearly, the winner here is the authorities. The collection, along with the disbursal of the fund and its scrutiny is intact with the government. There has been a long civilization going on the banks of the river Brahmaputra. The way forward toward a solution is the permanent evacuation of the residents from the flood-prone area, either permanently or temporarily. Every year there have been thousands of families, whose houses have been washed away along with the families. The absence of proper scientific management towards a solution for flood-free Northeast seems to be never arriving shortly. Therefore, it is evident that such catastrophic events will take place shortly, and also the huge amount of money pouring into random fundraiser accounts is not going to stop. What started as a noble cause, seems to be taking the shape of a huge business, that runs in good faith, but the disbursal is disturbed due to the inclusion of random entities. Another solution is to educate the masses, about whosoever is willing to donate towards the funds, which shall do so into one unified account, and that can be created through transparency with the help of appropriate authority or government.
Damansekhar Saikia is a student at Amity University, Chattisgarh. The views expressed are of the author. The Philox does not endorse it.
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