Cyclone Nisarga: Village's only well broken, residents depend on water flowing down hill

Updated: Jun 22, 2020, 08:01 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

How locals in villages of Nizampur in Mahad Taluka are coping with situation after cyclone; some say government is only considering damage to tin sheets, not other damage while handling relief

One of the many houses damaged in Nizampur
One of the many houses damaged in Nizampur

For over 16 days since cyclone Nisarga made landfall, villagers in and around Nizampur in Mahad Taluka are without electricity. As the retaining wall of a sole village well collapsed, many have no choice but to fetch water flowing down a hill. Many claim that despite pleading with the administration to restore electricity, this has only been done in some pockets.

Prabhakar Sawant, 50, from Raigadwadi village said, "We were given free kerosene only on Friday, and electricity was restored only in some pockets of Raigadwadi. Many villages in and around Nizampur in Mahad taluka including Raigadwadi, Wageriwadi, Boudhwadi, etc. were affected and houses have either partially or fully collapsed. However, only legal houses, are considered for the assessment (property card). For decades, there are 25 shanties on the Raigad Fort. But their loss won't be assessed."

Villages well

Sawant further claimed, "In most villages, the panchnama was done by asking people the number of tin sheets damaged and extent of damage was calculated on the basis of tin sheet prices. For instance if someone lost six sheets, per sheet is calculated at R500 and total loss is considered to be only R3,000 and he is entitled to that, instead of R15,000 (the government's ex-gratia payment). There is no mention about loss to furniture, food grains, etc."

Villages well

Consider transportation
Sawant further added, "The authorities should have also considered the transportation cost of the tin sheets and the fixing charges. Most of us have been without jobs for the past few months due to lockdown." Sawant said many locals are still in the process of making the assessment documents. Some families' papers are in Mumbai. Speaking about the shanties on Raigad Fort, an official said the residents cannot be considered for help as it is under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). "However, on humanitarian grounds, local politicians and NGOs have helped the people," said an official from the Tehsildar office.

For nearly a week after the cyclone hit, villagers could not deposit their cheques of relief, due to the lack of power. Rajesh Kumar, Branch Manager at Pachad village'' Bank of India, said the branch was shut after the cyclone on June 3. The inverter batteries dried up and they had no option but to close the branch for nearly a week.

"The nearest branch of BOI, is around 25 km away and arrangement was made there for the villagers to deposit their cheques," said Kumar. 

Dipak Patil, Superintendent Engineer (MADISCOM), Raigad said, "We have almost completed restoration of 31 of 32 substations that were affected and the remaining one will be restored soon."

Tehsildar speak
Chandrasen Pawar, Tehsildar of Mahad Taluka, claimed that most of the damage in Nizampur was minor. Asked about not considering payment for transportation and re-installation of tin sheets, he said, "We have taken into account what the house owners claimed in the panchnama. We don't pay for transportation and installation, it is not covered as per norms. We cannot pay the entire sum of R15,000 towards minor damages. If some have complained of not getting help, they might not have proper assessment papers on the basis of which the payment is done. An additional R10,000 has been paid to people whose foodgrains, clothes, furniture etc were damaged."

Village broken houses

The other side
Aditi Tatkare, district Guardian Minister, said, "The preliminary reports said that the cyclone damaged eight talukas of Raigad district, and Mahad taluka doesn't fall in the category of worst affected areas. However, I will once again get the situation accessed."

Nidhi Choudhary, District Collector, clarified stating, "It is true that in Nizampur near Raigad Fort, there is damage. The Nizampur Zilla Parishad school and Anganwadi buildings are damaged."

Village houses

About relief she said, "The state government has increased the payment from R6,000 to R15,000 for minor damaged houses (R6,000 from State Disaster Relief Fund and R9,000 from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund). Post panchnama, the extent of damage is reimbursed, as per the statement given by the house owner, with R15,000 being the maximum amount. We must also understand the principle of financial proprietary and payment is done to the extent of damage and not otherwise, which will be unfair to the state."

Rs 15k
Ex-gratia payment announced by the government

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