NHRC notice to Odisha govt, asks immediate steps to ensure relief supplies to cyclone-hit people

Bhubaneswar: The NHRC issued a notice to Odisha government Wednesday after reports said relief material did not reach people in parts of cyclone-hit Puri and Khurda districts, and sought immediate steps to address the issue.

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that people were facing hardships and were agitated as relief material did not reach them in parts of the two districts, a NHRC release said.

Thousands of Cyclone Fani-affected people came out on streets on May 7, after reportedly struggling for food and water for four days and were lathicharged by police, it said.

The Commission said it understands 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 that need immediate relief and rehabilitation.

The NHRC has issued a notice to Odisha chief secretary to take immediate steps to address the issues of the general public. The chief secretary is expected to submit his response to the NHRC within six weeks, the release said.

According to media reports published Wednesday, the residents were angry with the government’s move to provide additional 50 kg rice and Rs 2,000 to only those covered by the Food Safety Programme in Puri and Khurda districts, it said.

The people have reportedly questioned whether the cyclone has not affected those who do not have ration cards?

The news reports say many NGOs, including the UK-based “Khalsa”, are distributing food to the affected people.

The state government has claimed cooked food is being provided to people staying in shelter homes and community kitchens have been opened in slum areas.

But the news reports say hundreds of residents of Binoba Nagar slum area in Puri staged a protest and blocked roads, alleging government apathy.

Nearly 30 women picketed the main gate of the district collector office, stating that relief material has not reached their colony Jagannath Basti, only 4km from the collector’s office.