Double tragedy: No time for red-tapism

15,000 is a huge number, specially when it refers to houses destroyed or damaged by hailstorm or thunderstorm. It is now official that more than 15,000 houses have been either damaged or completely destroyed by the hailstorm/thunderstorm which lashed several parts of the state on May 5. The figure may only rise after full assessment. As seen in several photographs and video clips circulated on social media, the scale of damage is huge. In fact, it is a disaster for thousands of families. While many houses have been razed to ground, hundreds of houses had their roofs blown away and thousands had their roofs perforated like metal gauze. The disaster has only doubled the people’s misery and economic woes. Along with the dwelling houses, large tracts of vegetable farms, agricultural crops as well as horticultural crops have also been ruined by the hailstorm/thunderstorm. Although there are some unofficial reports of the hailstorm/thunderstorm killing poultry and livestock, there is no official record as yet. The authorities need to carry out a thorough assessment on this front too. This, we fear, will have serious impacts on the state’s economy. The state and her people have been already reeling under suffocating economic woes on account of the violent crisis which erupted on May 3, 2023 and is still lingering without a hope of resolution any time soon. More than 60,000 people displaced by the violent conflict have been taking refuge in relief camps and living a wretched life for the past one year.  Now more people, rendered homeless or roofless by the hailstorm/thunderstorm, are taking shelter in community halls and relief camps. If the devastating hailstorm/thunderstorm of May 5, 2024 is a natural disaster, the violent conflict raging across the state since May 3, 2023 is a man-made one. The situation is really desperate and the state must act accordingly, and it is undoubtedly a fit case for declaration of Natural Disaster officially.
The situation is really desperate as evidenced by long queues seen in front of hardware stores since early morning long before the hardware stores were opened to buy construction and roofing materials, particularly CGI sheets. The scale of damage and destruction is so widespread that many hardware stores of Imphal have exhausted their stocks of CGI sheets on a single day. The government did respond to the natural disaster by way of calling damage reports but very little has been done on ground so far to lessen the misery of the affected people. The government and its agencies must act pro-actively and do everything to ameliorate the people’s misery. A large number of people have been suffering from the double tragedy of a man-made disaster and a natural disaster. It’s not time for lengthy, cumbersome paper works or red-tapism. It would do well for the government and its agencies to go to the affected people and do whatever they can to lessen the people’s suffering instead of waiting for the people to come to their offices. Cumbersome paper works and red-tapism at such time of natural disaster will only draw harsh criticisms. The situation is so desperate and it demands the state and its agencies to act on war-footing. It is heartening to note the Chief Minister’s announcement that an amount of Rs 6.90 crore has been sanctioned to take up relief measures for the affected people. At the same time, it must be understood that the sanctioned amount will do no good until and unless it reaches the suffering people. If the sanctioned amount is held up at government offices, it will serve no purpose. Rather it will invite public ire. The Chief Minister was also saying that the government would look into the question of providing compensation to farmers for loss of crops, poultry and livestock. This is indeed a positive response from the government. This is another key aspect which must be assessed comprehensively and the Chief Minister’s response ought to be translated into action for all these farmers have been already suffering from the crippling impacts of the violent crisis. It is a disaster and people are suffering from a double tragedy. It’s no time for red-tapism.