Thursday, February 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sharks stalk sea of relief
From Raman Mohan

HISAR, Jan 31 — With sharks stalking the high seas of relief mobilisation for quake victims, the task of the genuine fund-raisers has suffered a severe setback in Haryana.

Unlike in the past, when only a handful of organisations headed by well-known social workers raised funds for victims of natural calamities, every town in Haryana has seen mushrooming of fund-raising bodies in the wake of the recent earthquake in Gujarat.

Barring a few, which have the right credentials, most of these newly set up relief societies comprise men of doubtful integrities or greenhorns who have never been involved in social work in the past.

Enquiries from various parts of the state indicate that almost every district or subdivisional town has an average of more than two dozen organisations collecting mostly cash and, in some cases, other relief material for the quake-hit.

For instance, in Hisar there are around 30 different organisations mobilising funds. In the Industrial area and business circles alone, about a dozen newly set up organisations have suddenly become active. What raised the hackles of philanthropists among the moneyed class here was the fact that most of them were seeking cash instead of cheques, bank drafts or goods urgently needed by the quake-hit. In many cases, even receipt books had been purchased from the market, which do not bear even the name of the organisation.

Enquiries by The Tribune revealed that only two such organisations that have been active for years now had bank accounts. These are publishing the list of donors in the local dailies regularly. The rest are not making their collections public in any way.

This has made the task of the genuine fund-raisers difficult. A well-known local social worker said earlier donations poured in voluntarily. But with dozens of different organisations becoming active, the pace of inflow of funds has been severely affected. However, he said it was a temporary setback, as ultimately people would donate to credible bodies only.

Philanthropists, businessmen and industrialists are feeling the pinch too. Normally, they donate a particular amount to two to three organisations. One of these is invariably the body with official patronage. However, their offices have been swarmed this time by motley groups of white khadi clad men unknown to them. They find it hard to decide whom to give and whom to refuse.

One local industrialist said he offered one such group 2000 blankets, an equal number of cooking oil packets and 2000 kg of potato and onions. But the offer was refused. He even offered to have these delivered to them at Bhuj or Ahmedabad. Even this was not accepted. All they wanted was cash. Ultimately, he put his foot down and refused to pay.

Another factory owner said he was asked to foot the bill for hiring a Matador and paying for its fuel also to enable members of an ‘unknown’ organisation to travel to the Gujarat for assessing the damage and then collecting the required relief material on their return. He refused to oblige.

Mr Sampat Singh, Finance Minister, said the government might direct the district administrations to constitute district-level bodies comprising representatives of all well-known social service organisations and government officials to oversee collection and distribution of relief fund and material.


Tribune Founder’s Day celebrations cancelled
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 31—The Tribune Trust has decided to cancel its annual Founder’s Day celebrations slated for February 2.

This was announced here today by Mrs Serla Garewal, President of The Tribune Trust. In a statement, she said: “The calamity which struck Gujarat on January 26 has claimed the lives of thousands. Lakhs of people have suffered injuries and countless have been rendered homeless. We, at The Tribune group of publications, share the grief and sorrow of our brethren in Gujarat and want them to know that they are not alone in this hour of crisis.” “In view of this enormous national tragedy, The Tribune Trust has decided to cancel its annual Founder’s Day celebrations scheduled for February 2,” she said.

The Tribune Employees Union, at a meeting held here yesterday under the presidentship of Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, expressed its heartfelt sympathies for the Gujarat earthquake victims and their families. It was decided that all employees of The Tribune Trust would donate their one day’s salary for the relief of the quake victims.


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