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Ramakanta Biswas

Puri: Seven years have passed since the extremely severe cyclonic storm Phailin wreaked utter devastation in the State, but, many people whose houses were damaged by the cyclone are still to receive any compensation.

There are hundreds of such beneficiaries in Brahmagiri area of Puri district who are spending their lives in damaged houses as they have not received the relief for construction of their houses so far.

It has been alleged that though the work orders under the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project were released a year and a half back, the victims are yet to get full payment of the compensation.

Under the scheme, around 1400 beneficiaries had received work orders for construction of houses. Each beneficiary is supposed to get Rs 3 lakh for construction of about 300 sq. ft house having other facilities like electricity and water supply facilities.

However, in the absence of aid, many houses are lying incomplete. Those who had taken loans from local money lenders to finish their house are now unable to repay the loans.

The beneficiaries alleged their plight is result of the apathetic attitude of the administration. They have blamed that despite repeated complaints, their pleas are going unheard.

“I have been running from pillar to post for the past one year, but the bill of my house is yet to be approved. I am not alone as houses of about 15 to 20 households in our village are lying unfinished. I borrowed about Rs 1.70 lakh from a local moneylender. He comes every day to get back the loan money, but I am unable to repay,” said Sanjay Bhoi, a beneficiary.

Bhimsen Swain, secretary of the Phailin-affected people’s joint action committee, said, “Dharna and protest were organised and a PIL was also filed in court, but the victims have not received the full aid due to the intentional apathy and callousness of the administrative officials. Even many people are yet to get work order. Those who received some amount and carried out construction work by taking loans from local money lenders are now at the receiving end of suffering.”

Asked for an explanation on the allegations of the locals, Brahmagiri block development officer (BDO) Jyoti Prakash Sethi assured that measures will be taken soon to resolve the issue.

“It was a World Bank project which subsequently came under the State government. The contractual staff of the World Bank were removed from service. They have recruited new staff. Once they give us staff, we will begin the work and pending bills will be paid,” Sethi said.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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