NHRC notice to the Government of Odisha over reports of relief material not reaching people in some parts of the cyclone affected areas in the State (08.05.2019)

New Delhi, 08th May, 2019

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that people are facing hardship are agitated that the cyclone the relief material is not reaching them in some parts of Puri and Khurdha districts of Odisha. Reportedly, thousands of cyclone affected people struggling to get food and water came out after four days on streets on the 7th May, 2019. The police reportedly resorted to lathi charge to disperse the protesters.

The Commission has observed that it understands that the state administration, in collaboration with central agencies and NGOs is trying to cope up with the situation but there seems to be necessity to identify areas which require immediate relief and rehabilitation. The Commission understands the difficulties, being faced by the residents of the affected areas, which going by the media reports are Puri and Khurdha districts.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha to look into the contents of the news report and take immediate steps to redress the grievance of the general public. The Chief Secretary is expected to submit his response to the Commission within six weeks.

According to the media reports, carried toady on 8th May,2019, the residents were also angry against government’s move to provide additional 50 Kgs rice and Rs. 2,000/- only to the family members which are covered by the “Food Safety Programme” in Puri and Khurdha districts. The people have reportedly questioned whether the cyclone has not affected the people who do not have ration cards? The news report reveals that many NGOs including “Khalsa” based at UK are distributing food to the affected people, at different locations.

The State Government has reportedly claimed that cooked food is being provided to the people who are staying in the different buildings being used as Shelter Homes and community kitchens have also been opened at most of the slum areas but as mentioned in the news report, hundreds of residents of Binova Nagar slum area staged a protest and blocked vehicles on the roads. One of the residents of the locality has stated that despite informing the district administration many times, nobody came to their rescue. The Office of the District Collector also witnessed agitation by the people as 30 women picketed at the main gate of the office stating that the relief material has not reached their colony, called “Jagannath Basti”, which is only four kilometers away from the Collector’s office.