Government played politics: SM Jamdar

The deputy commissioner has the power to issue the notification under Sec 5 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act.

Retired bureaucrat S.M. Jamdar played a key role in shifting part of Bagalkote city and rehabilitated more than hundred villages when they were submerged in the Almatti backwaters. Here are excerpts from an interview

Why are flood victims in North Karnataka reluctant to shift to Aasare houses?
This happened due to a change in government policy made with an eye on vote banks by the then CM B.S. Yeddyurappa. Initiatialy, we had laid down a condition that the flood-hit families should be fully shifted to Aasare houses by demolishing their submerged old homes. But, the government allowed them to stay in old houses keeping the interests of the party in mind with elections round the corner. I had suggested that joint bank accounts for the donors and the government. But, the officials did not operate these accounts properly and assigned the construction of houses to various government agencies. I resigned as chief controller and special officer for relief and rehabilitation due to corruption and politics involved.

The Gram Panchayats also failed to maintain basic amenities…
The district administration should have shifted the new settlement to Gram Panchayats after the construction of houses. The deputy commissioner has the power to issue the notification under Sec 5 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act. But, this has not been done. It has become a big burden for the local panchayats to maintain basic amenities in both the old villages and new settlements.

Have the smaller Aasare homes prompted flood victims to stay away from the new settlements?
We cannot build a palace for every victim. They should move to safer homes instead of dying in flood waters every year. Though the built-up area is small, they are allotted residential sites of more than 1,200 sqft. I successfully shifted 179 villages which were submerged in the Almatti backwaters during my tenure as commissioner for Rehabilitation and Resettlement wing of Upper Krishna Project.

Has the government provided enough compensation?
No government can pay compensation for natural calamities. They can only pay ex-gratia to save people who are on the verge of death due to these calamities.

What is the reason for the Kodagu floods?
I had given a report to the government that more than 2 lakh acres of forest land has been encroached by influential people including politicians for coffee plantations. They have removed big trees loosening the soil. This caused landslides. Now, my report has been justified after ten years.

What remedial measures do you suggest for rehabilitation of Kodagu flood victims?
Undertaking rehabilitation and reconstruction at this juncture is dangerous as we have to search for safer ground which is not prone to landslides. The focus should be on relief work, rehabilitation can be taken up only after the rain stops in September. Proper advice should be taken from international consultancy agencies and experts from the National Highways wing.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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