Hyderabad: Although Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has been demanding that the Centre should allow the State to avail of the Rs 700-crore aid announced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there are some senior babus in his administration who turn away relief workers arriving with men and material.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a visit to a relief camp at Kozhencherry, in Pathanamthitta on Thursday
She, along with her sister, had left for Thiruvananthapuram to help animals in distress in several places across Kerala, which is reeling under the worst ever floods affecting that State. Besides, a team of volunteers headed by them had gone there on behalf of the Telangana State government.
According to Pravallika, the Telangana Animal Husbandry Department provided vaccines worth of Rs 2 lakh and a 100 metric tonnes of cattle feed. However, the senior babu of Kerala, who had just come after attending a different meeting, shocked them, saying: "We don't need anyone from anywhere. Why did they (Telangana government) send you?" he asked.
While they were still left at a loss for words, the official in question took a dig at them, asking them in a sarcastic manner: "We thought the Government of Telangana would send only 10 metric tonnes of cattle feed. How come you have brought 100 metric tonnes?
Left on a sticky wicket and humiliated, the team members, however, subsequently sought the help of other officials to guide them to reach out animals in the affected areas. Unlike the senior babu, some of the conscientious officials of the KAHD guided them to visit Pathanamthitta and Kollam district areas, which are among those worst affected. "We had left in an RTC bus and reached after a four-hour journey to the Niranam village,” said Priyanka, who was also one of the team members.
"The situation in the area is worse as no relief material like food and medicines were sent till the evening of August 22 after the August 18 floods inundated these areas. Large animals like cows, buffaloes and the like were left in the lurch.
It was only people who helped the animals by extracting banana stems to feed the cattle and using two buckets of water provided to each family by the Kerala Fire Department," she said.
When contacted, the Telangana Animal Husbandry Department officials remained tight-lipped over the treatment meted out to the relief team sent by it and did not want to make any comment openly. However, a senior official from the department said, "Not only those who went from here, even the Telangana Director of Animal Husbandry had to call his counterpart in Kerala nearly 30 times to reach him. “It was literally begging the Kerala officials to accept the relief material from Telangana," the official said.
Ramanan (name changed), from Hyderabad, who is still in the fields in Alappuzha district of Kerala, said that there is no relief either from the State or the Central government to address the cattle in distress. This shows that no Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were being followed by the AH Department during floods like this, he said.