Imphal: A week after an earthquake jolted Manipur, the people here have started resenting the government apathy, notwithstanding the repeated assurances that they would be provided relief materials.
Both the state and the central governments appear to be fumbling while most of the victims, rendered homeless in this icy winter, said they are compelled to stay at temporary relief camps without any government help. The lucky few are relying on their relatives and friends.
The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Manipur and neighbouring northeastern states on January 4 morning. Nine people were killed and over 110 left injured. Many families were rendered homeless as their houses crumbled to ground.
The quake-hit viewed the response from the government as short of public expectation.
“Though the earthquake hit the state on January 4 morning, it was only on January 9 evening that Governor V. Shammuganathan visited the damaged women’s market which is less than 50 metres away from his residence,” said S. Apabi, a vendor.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi and others are yet to visit the quake victims.
Deputy Chief Minister and Prasdesh Congress Committee president Gaikhangam is the only elected member who visited the affected tribals in Tamenglong district, from where he was elected to the state assembly.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women vendors have started selling consumer items, handloom clothes and other items on the footpath.
“We are daily wage earners. When we return home with a morsel of rice, our children are waiting for us and the scratch meals,” said Sakhitombi, a greengrocer.
“As we have to earn money for supporting the family, we are sitting here. As and when we are allowed, we will shift to the temporary market earmarked by the government,” said Bina, who sells handloom clothes by the roadside.
“It is anybody’s guess how long the government will take to repair the damaged portions of the markets,” she aded.
Chief secretary Oinam Nabakishore had said: “The government has sanctioned Rs.2 crore for rehabilitation — Rs.50 lakh each will be distributed in the four districts for victims.”
Most of the quake victims, however, say they have not received a single rupee from the government.
Some of them even fear some corrupt officials may swindle their relief money.
The state government had sought a central assistance of Rs.20 crore for victims’ rehabilitation. However, affected families say so far there has been no response although several central ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party workers in Manipur are claiming many things are being done for the victims.
Officials declined to explain why even blankets and packaged foods have not been distributed to the victims, staying in relief camps.
“The big shots of the BJP and the ruling Congress seem to be occupied with the local body elections on Monday,” said K. Panmei, an earthquake victim.
“In any case, they have no time for us since our villages do not come under the valley local bodies,” Panmei added.
Officials said the central government has received a report as sought by central ministers Kiren Rijiju and Jitendra Singh during their visit to Imphal shortly after the earthquake.
Rijiju said: “Once we receive the report, we will come out with relief measures.”
It was, however, not explained why no relief material or funds have been made available to the people.