An RTI response has unfolded a scam in the allowance claims made by the officials involved in the rescue and relief works of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods.
According to media reports, RTI activist Bhupender Kumar of National Action Forum for Social Justice, has revealed that officials supervising relief work after the floods in 2013, splurged huge amount of money. The response has unveiled that the officials claimed Rs 194 for half a litre of milk; signed bills of more than Rs 7,000 per day for hotel stays; paid relief twice to the same people, and made payment of Rs 98 lakh for fuel purchase to a helicopter company.
Other revelations include the purchase of 1,800 rain coats from the same shop for three days, purchase of diesel for two-wheelers and showing of relief works for a period 43 days before they were actually launched.
Ramesh Pokhariyal, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, has been reported saying, “We had raised this issue over & over. We want this to be looked into,” adding to it that he had been screaming about this for an year.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Communications and IT Minister, has said that the matter will be looked into. Uttarakhand State Information Commissioner Anil Sharma has also recommended a CBI probe into the matter, as suggested by reports.
In response to the revelations, Vijay Bahuguna, former CM of Uttarakhand, urged the government to investigate if more facts come up. He also said, “It’s quite natural when there is crisis of this magnitude, prices do go up. Enquiry should be whether goods were available at cheaper prices and still bought at higher prices.”
Over 5,000 people were killed and hundreds were stranded without food and water during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, which also rendered a lot of historical buildings and temples completely damaged.