Gujarat Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi on Monday visited the flood-ravaged villages of Borsad taluka in Anand district and handed over compensation cheques for Rs 4 lakh to families of three persons killed in the flash floods of Saturday night.Trivedi also assured that families who have lost domestic animals in the floods will also receive compensation shortly.Accompanied by District Collector M Y Daxini and BJP MP Mitesh Patel, along with other elected representatives and teams of NDRF, Trivedi visited the affected areas and interacted with people in the shelter homes, distributing grains and sarees to women.Trivedi, who is the guardian minister of Anand district, also handed over the compensation cheques for Rs 4 lakh to the families of the three deceased persons –Sanjay Patel, Kisan Baria, and Sana Thakur.Speaking to reporters, Trivedi said that despite the taluka receiving over 300mm rainfall in 24 hours, the administration and the BJP “did its best” in the given situation.In response to a query about the pre-monsoon work of the administration in the flood-affected areas, Trivedi said, “It is not the question of the pre-monsoon work in this matter. When any place receives rainfall of 1 foot (300 mm) in a span of 24 hours, the low-lying areas are bound to be flooded… Even in such a situation, the administration was able to reach everyone and shift people to safer places. Unfortunately, three persons were killed but the government did not sit back and watch… The revenue department, collector’s office and the workers of the BJP got together and faced the floods…”Trivedi added that the government would soon also release the compensation to families that have lost domestic animals.“We are aware that many domestic animals were drowned in the flood… I surveyed the villages today and I could see the flood water has left marks up to 11 feet… Our party workers and elected representatives have travelled through the flood waters on tractors and along with the district administration ensured that all people were taken care of.. We had 200 people in the shelter home and everyone was served food,” Trivedi said.Collector MY Daxini said that Trivedi distributed sarees to 180 women and grains to families at the shelter home, who will slowly be shifted back to their homes.“The water has receded in most places but the teams are working on surveying the area. The health teams are also in action, checking those families that are still in the shelters and villages where water has just receded are being sanitised. The carcasses of animals are also being disposed of,” Daxini told The Indian Express.“So far, close to 150 families have moved back to villages such as Bhadran but about 186 families from Sisva and around are still in the shelter. The survey teams will complete their work and in a day or two, we will also complete the cash dole for compensation and loss of household items as per government rule,” the collector added.
The battle for the heart of Maharashtra unfolds before us like a scene out of the Greco Roman wars. On one side, we have the somewhat battle-weary combined forces of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi; on the other, Eknath Shinde, the mighty dissident from the Shiv Sena with his swelling band of brothers, claiming that the coalition that the Sena had made with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress was unholy. Though it is being publicly denied, strong support is coming from the BJP headed by Devendra Fadnavis, still smarting from being dethroned by the MVA, and consumed by the desire for regaining his lost throne. The great strength of the camp supporting Shinde, as we all know, is the north’s demographic strength — numbers, the immeasurable human mass that BJP-ruled states hold, ready to pulverise the enemy who snatched away India’s financial capital successfully.Operation Grab Back began a few days ago when a few air-conditioned buses were said to have carried dissidents from the MVA into Gujarat’s Surat and kept them in a five-star hotel awaiting orders. This is, by now, a familiar scenario, repeated in many states before toppling an elected government and replacing it with one that is more Centre-friendly.As things began stirring in Mumbai and Surat this time, suddenly and inexplicably, three chartered planes flew dissidents, whose ranks had swelled, from the arid climes of Surat to the flood-ravaged north-eastern state of Assam. In Guwahati, as in Surat, they are reportedly staying in a five-star luxury hotel. As we all know, Assam is facing floods and landslides that have killed almost 100, rendered almost 3 lakh homeless and nearly submerged 32 of the state’s 36 districts.Questions arise, like who has been funding these expensive disaster tourism ventures for dissidents opposing the MVA, of which they are still a part? Who funded the trips in air conditioned buses to Surat and picked up the tab for stays in five-star hotels in both Surat and Guwahati? The Maharashtra BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil says his party has nothing to do with what has been happening in the Sena’s ranks and will not stake a claim for government formation. However, Shinde and his friends were received by a BJP MP and a BJP MLA at Guwahati airport.While the political drama is still unfolding in Mumbai and Delhi, with Uddhav Thackeray moving out of his official residence and the swelling numbers of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs being feted at Radisson Blu in Guwahati, it seems more likely than not that the MVA government may fall. It may be cause for glee in the ranks of those who engineered this coup, but it still leaves another question unanswered: What possessed the powers that be to undertake this unseemly horse trading in a state reeling under unprecedented floods? Media savvy as they are, did they not pause to think of how the images of the homeless rushing to safe spaces with their minimal possessions would play against the backdrop of MLAs thumping each other on the back and smiling for the cameras in plush hotels?It is unlikely that the Assam Chief Minister, during his much publicised train journey through the affected areas, had failed to notice how inadequate the air dropping of food and relief materials was proving to be in the face of the deluge. Didn’t he point out to the organisers of this teddy bears’ picnic at the Radisson Blu how hunger and disease are stalking the beleaguered land, and that his first duty was to the citizens of Assam? Such indifference to public opinion brings to mind Herodotus, witness to the endless bloodied procession of armies during the multicultural wars and the end of Xerxes, the powerful Persian King of Kings: “The end is not apparent from the very outset.”Herodotus, a passionate advocate of freedom and democracy and a foe of despotic behaviour, would make good reading in these times for our elected representatives. Herodotus never blames human beings, he blames the system. It is the system that creates the soldiers and the kings and the learned men eventually. And their quality determines the end result. At the end of the Greco Persian wars, a handful of free speaking, ever squabbling Greeks won because they were defending what is most defensible: The right of all citizens to be treated well, to be heard, to live with dignity befitting a human being. The Persians, with their great disciplined ranks, lost, because they worshipped at the feet of one supreme leader unquestioningly, with no arguments.The Maharashtra dissidents enjoying themselves at someone else’s expense, in five-star luxury surrounded by misery, devastation, land erosion and death, are a metaphor, a symbol and sign of our times. They point to the borders that have been drawn between the common citizens and the political class they vote for. The millions that are being squandered on people’s representatives who are defying their given mandate, could have been at the service of the state’s disaster management department to help the people of Assam who have lost their homes, their crops and their self respect.This is not the first instance, nor will it be the last. Year after year, crisis brews in a state and crores are wasted in supporting completely irrational dissidence through undemocratic means. To think that, decades ago, Mumbai was India’s first multi language metropolitan city where VK Krishna Menon, a rank “outsider”, could win an election and rise to be a Union minister.What went wrong? Things changed with the rise of linguistic chauvinism. Once it began to tug at the political imagination, Maharashtra hit out at Gujaratis, and then, at South Indians and other “Others”. Sadly, politicians from various ideological camps discarded their core ideology of liberal multiculturalism and joined the xenophobic supporters of “Maharashtra for Maharashtrians” and Marathi chauvinists. In 1966, a cartoonist, Bal Thackeray created the Shiv Sena, and soon established a mindset that was anything but amusing. The wall built around the state is today simultaneously its shield and a trap. Such walls do not make good neighbours. They will always make state politics a target for the entry of Trojan horses from UP to Guwahati.The writer is former chairperson, Prasar Bharati
A 17-year-old boy was among three persons who were killed after being struck by lightning in Saurashtra as sporadic thundershowers continued for the second day in the region.The boy, Amul Makwana, was killed in Khari village of Sihor taluka of Bhavnagar on Wednesday. “He was working on an agricultural farm when he was hit by a lightning bolt at around 5.30 pm,” said an officer of Bhavnagar district flood control room.Two men were killed in separate incidents in Chuda and Limbdi talukas of Surendranagar late Tuesday.Disrict flood control room said that Jusab Alarakha Jivani, a resident of Jambu village in Limbdi taluka, was was riding his motorbike when a lightning bolt struck him around 7.30 pm Tuesday.In Rangadh village of Limbdi taluka, Melabhai Devthala, a resident of Nani Kathechi village, was hit by a lightning bolt around 8.30 pm Tuesday.Control room officers said that Chuda taluka experienced 18 millimetres (mm) rain while Limbdi recorded 12 mm rain on Tuesday.Thundershowers were reported from Amreli and Bhavnagar districts for the second consecutive day, while thunderstorm hit parts of Vinchhiya taluka of Rajkot district Wednesday. Savarkundla taluka of Amreli reported 12 mm rain, while Jesar taluka of neighbouring Bhavnagar district also experienced showers.In Vinchhiya, gusty winds accompanying rain uprooted trees and damaged tile-roofs of houses.
The Gujarat government on Tuesday declared a relief package of Rs 531 crore for farmers affected by floods in nine districts in September.Spokesperson of the government and state minister Jitu Vaghani announced the package while adding that it will cover nine districts, 37 tehsils, and 1,530 villages. The total area to be covered for the package is around 7.65 lakh hectare belonging to 5 lakh farmers. The nine districts where the floods caused damage in Septe-mber include Ahmedabad, Botad, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Bharuch, Panchmahals, Junagadh, Chhota Udepur and Vadodara.Vaghani said that the package has been announced after carrying out a survey of the affected areas. As per the package, a farmer is eligible to get Rs 6,800 per hectare for up to 2 hectare land. He added that as per the rules of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), in case of damage in 0.5 hectare land, the farmer is eligible for Rs 3,400 as relief.But, he further added, the state government has decided to give relief amount of Rs 4,000 in such cases with the latter bearing the difference amount of Rs 600.Any farmer who has sustained more than 33 per cent damage to crops due to the floods will be eligible for minimum Rs 4,000 compensation. The farmers will be able to file their applications for the compensation between December 6 and 24 from digital portal of the state government.