Counting the chips
Every monsoon, incessant rainfall and accompanying floods wreak untold havoc on swathes of land in the Tarai belt. In the event of such natural disasters, it is also routine for government agencies and social institutions to chip in with money and material to help with relief efforts. No doubt, many fundraisers have the best interest of victims in mind. Yet that cannot be said of all those who are forcing people to offer “voluntary help” by obstructing traffic movement and raiding private homes. What is amazing is that not a single outfit involved in collecting funds in the name of flood victims has obtained prior permission of the home ministry. The Donation Act clearly states that anyone wishing to collect public money should be authorised to do so either by home ministry or chief district office.
As things stand, not only are obscure outfits collecting donations without permission, they are also forcing people to part with their money against their wish. Moreover, there is no effective mechanism to ensure that collected money and material reach the target populace. Thus, in all likelihood, a huge portion of the donations is being siphoned off for personal benefits. In the absence of proper guidelines and strict legal provisions, self-seeking persons are flouting feeble laws with impunity. The least the government can do is to see to strict implementation of the Donation Act, making it mandatory for the fun-draisers to keep proper accounts of collected funds. Additionally, clear channels need to be established for transporting relief materials to the affected areas.