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Indian flood relief tied up in red tape

Thousands may get no aid as they can't prove they were victims

Indian flood relief tied up in red tape

An army base in Uttarakhand destroyed by flash floods

Ritu Sharma, Rudraprayag

September 5, 2013

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Thousands of people affected by the recent flooding in India’s northern Uttarakhand state will not receive government aid because authorities want documentary proof that they really are victims, a top official says.

“We have resources, but for money or other aid to reach the real victims we need to identify them through documentation,” Dilip Jawalkar, district magistrate of Rudraprayag, one of the five worst affected districts, told on Wednesday.

He agreed that providing relief is taking a long time and that many victims will get nothing because documents they may have had were lost after their homes were washed away in flash floods and torrential rains that hit the mountainous state on June 16.

Thousands of people have no documents to show they lost their source of livelihood in the floods. These people include villagers who used to take pilgrims by mule to the Hindu pilgrim site of Kedarnath.

The floods killed an estimated 4,500 mules but their owners have no documents proving they owned them so they can not get compensation for their loss.

Jawalkar revealed the problem at a meeting on Wednesday between representatives from organizations working to provide assistance in the flood affected areas of Rudraprayag district.

He called for NGOs to help the vulnerable people who, because of red tape, the government will turn away.

“We have our own limitations, so we want NGOs to reach out to those people,”he said.

Jawalkar said that the biggest problem has been the sheer magnitude of the disaster.

“It is beyond anybody’s imagination,” he told the meeting organized by the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT).

The meeting aimed to coordinate the work of NGOs and also "to let them identify sectors they would like to work in so that there are no overlaps,” Praveen Pawar, UNDMT coordinator, told

He said improved coordination will help NGOs give better assistance to flood victims in the worst affected districts of Chamoli, Tehri, Pauri, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag.

Over 1,000 villages in these districts were badly hit when the rains ravaged the area for a fortnight. Authorities say the exact number of dead may never be known, but have recorded the deaths of 5,748 people.

They included pilgrims to highly the revered Hindu pilgrimage sites of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rishikesh and Haridwar.

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