Was the tsunami a godsend for some?

CHENNAI: Was the tsunami that struck the Tamil Nadu coast and wreaked havoc five years ago a godsend for some NGOs? Going by the whispers within the NGO community and the police cases filed in recent times against some individuals charging them with embezzling funds, it looks like the moment of grief for thousands of people helped unscrupulous ‘social workers’ mint money.The tragedy saw the world rising to the occasion with individuals and donor organisations sending financial aid running into millions of dollars to NGOs and other groups for providing succour to the victims. Now, some of the donors have started demanding accountability.One such donor agency, US-based Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), which gave Rs 7.5 crore to the Church of South India (CSI), demanded the audited accounts for the funds and that led to the church filing a case against a few people with the police. Apart from that, two other cases were filed with the police relating to swindling of tsunami relief funds.But the embezzlement that has come to light is not even the tip of the iceberg, say people working for NGOs. Without going into specifics, an NGO worker employed in a project in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala said: “If I could sum it up in one sentence, it is this: all those who are running NGOs are waiting for another tsunami.” NGOs receive funds from donors under three categories — immediate, temporary settlement and permanent settlement. In most cases, the fraud starts from the first level itself. “All the NGOs visit the same village, click the same photographs, but sent them to different donors across the world seeking funds. Donors release funds to provide immediate succour, completely unaware that there are many others who are sending money to the same NGO for the same beneficiaries.” “I realised a month after the tsunami that victims too understood the tricks of the NGOs. In many fishing hamlets, the village ‘elders’ who decide for the entire community place specific demands before the NGOs. The sub-text: We know you are lining your pockets.Implement our demands if you want us to allow you to work in our hamlet,” he said.The quid-pro-quo worked perfectly in many hamlets. “For example, when donor agency representatives would visit the hamlets for inspection, the residents would parrot the lines taught to them by the NGOs. The bottomline: donors happy as they think they served a good cause and have no clue about the scam; NGOs happy as they make pots of money; and village elders happy as they got what they wanted. It is only when the NGOs double-crossed the villagers that the skeletons came out of the cupboard.” Wiser from experience, the donor agencies have now formed a federation of their own to ensure that they are not cheated, he said.The source also said that most NGO rehabilitation projects would look great on paper but were not feasible. But since workers raising such questions would face isolation within the organisation, nobody dared to flag their concerns.In the case filed by the CSI, its former general secretary Dr Pauline Sathiamurthy and her family members came under police scrutiny.“We arrested Pauline’s daughter Benatikta and a relative Robert Sunil. But Pauline escaped to the USA and her husband Sathiamurthy remains absconding,” said C Sridhar, deputy commissioner of police of Central Crime Branch (CCB), Chennai.Despite receiving the funds from ERD, the housing projects undertaken as part of the permanent rehabilitation programme for tsunami victims remained unfinished, the officer said.When the media broke the news about the fraud, around 300 women from 10 fishing villages near Ennore visited the suburban police commissioner’s office demanding action against Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Welfare Organisation for alleged misappropriation of aid from the Australia-based Oxfam to the tune of Rs 1 crore for development of women members of tsunami-hit families in Ennore. The police arrested Sivagami, who heads the organisation, as she was found to have diverted funds into her personal bank account.In another case in Mahabalipuram, the police arrested Anandarai of the Moulin Mission Trust for allegedly swindling over Rs 10 crore from contractors by collecting earnest money deposit after promising them orders for construction of houses for tsunami victims and the poor.


About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
This entry was posted in Christian terrorism in India, corruption India. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Was the tsunami a godsend for some?

  1. Hello Blogger Friend,

    Your excellent post has been back-linked in

    – a blog for Daily Posts, News, Views Compilation by a Common Hindu
    – Hindu Online.

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