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The Ground Beneath The Waves

Disaster Relief Report: Asia

More Horrifying Than Tsunami

Dec 26, 2006
It has been two years since the tsunami washed over the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of its residents. Although the government made a lot of promises, and spent a lot of taxpayer’s money, very little actual relief and rehabilitation work has been done. Instead of ensuring that people are able to return to farming or fishing or trade, the islands’ economy is being parcelled out to vested interests from the mainland. The environmental degradation is reaching crisis proportions. As people struggle to survive in hot, subhuman tin sheds, with no food security, electricity, education, basic health or livelihood, the terrible question comes back: where have all the massive aid and big promises disappeared? For how long will the central government hide the suffering of the tsunami survivors in India from the rest of the world? The government of India repeatedly promised the people that they would be given permanent housing, but apart from the model houses constructed for display, not a single house has been built for the 10,000 tsunami survivors! Two years after the tsunami, in many of the islands, the boats have yet to come, nets are yet to be distributed, jetties remain destroyed, and cold storages do not exist. There is fish in the sea but not for the tribals of the islands. There is no work or meaningful employment. People are still drinking from stagnant water pools and streams. They suffer all kinds of diseases as a result. In the middle of all this confusion, it appears that the minister for tourism is pushing for these pristine islands to be opened up for “high value” tourism. Forty islands that have a fragile ecosystem, particularly after the tsunami, are to be opened up for tourism. It is craftily packaged as eco-tourism. But for the vulnerable islands - this means doom.

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