Helping Tauktae Victims


Additional assistance might be given to the cyclone-affected

The state government has been quick to sanction compensation of about Rs 20 lakh to over 200 families affected by the cyclone Tauktae that hit the state on May 15. It is apparent from the figures released by the government that most damage was done in the Bicholim taluka:  44 people of the taluka received a compensation of Rs 10.40 lakh, more than half of the total compensation released by the state. A total of 78 affected families in Tiswadi taluka have been sanctioned Rs 4.28 lakh, while 23 affected people in Pernem got Rs 1.09 lakh. The compensation paid in other talukas is Rs 2.71 lakh for 50 people in Salcette, Rs 67,583 for 14 people in Sattari, Rs 88,000 to 16 people in Canacona, Rs 30,000 to five people in Dharbandora and Rs 32,000 to 11 people in Mormugao. Perhaps there were no claimants from Quepem and Sanguem talukas.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that the amounts released by the government would help the affected people to rebuild their houses. He had pegged the losses suffered by the state to Rs 146 crore last week and said that his government will seek central assistance for providing compensation to the families adversely hit by the cyclone. It is worth noting that soon after the cyclone Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Gujarat and announced central assistance to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore to his home state. Though other states like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra too were affected, they are yet to get any help from the Centre. Questions have been raised whether the compensation paid by the Goa government is enough for the beneficiaries to meet the expenses of the repairs of their houses. Generally, compensation in cases of natural calamities, including cyclones, is paid as per the rules and rates fixed by the government. There have been voices of discontent among recipients that the amount sanctioned was far lesser than the prevalent market rates and that this could hamper the repairs of the damaged houses.

Unlike in the past when the payment of compensation to those affected by natural calamities was delayed considerably, this time around the government machinery was quick to assess the damages and award compensation. It is surprising to note that the adverse impact of the cyclone was more severe in Bicholim taluka than the coastal talukas. Let us hope that losses suffered by every family in the cyclone are accounted for and compensated. Thousands of families have been deprived of their earnings due to the ongoing curfew imposed in the state to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus. Being hit by the cyclone was a double misery for them. There have been cases of people spending their savings for survival in the absence of work.

Some of the affected families might not be able to afford the entire cost of repairing their houses damaged by the cyclone. These families might have suffered damages to properties other than their houses for the repairs or replacement of which too they have to spend money. Crops and trees also suffered damages. The income of the people has gone down during the past one year owing to the disruption in the economic activities. People in the rural areas who earn an extra income by selling vegetables, fruits and fish have been hampered in their livelihood by lockdown, curfew and restrictions.

Under these circumstances, families affected by the cyclone might not have adequate money to take care of all the expenses, including the repairs of their houses. The labour is not in adequate supply owing to the flight of the migrant workers in the wake of the curfew that led to the closure of economic activities. So the labour cost might be higher. Additional assistance from the government might therefore be necessary. The state must get additional funds from the Centre as soon as possible. With monsoon approaching it is necessary that the help reaches the people at the earliest as delay in repairs of houses could lead to more damage during the monsoon.