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[mailto:cumbredx-admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]Puolesta ALOKESH GUPTA
Lähetetty: 30. joulukuuta 2004 10:03
Aihe: [Cumbre DX] AIR triggers exodus from Nicobar
AIR triggers exodus from Nicobar
Sheela Bhatt in Car Nicobar | December 30, 2004 05:18 IST
A live phone-in programme on All India Radio has created havoc with the
relief operations on the devastated island of Nicobar.
The island is a reserved tribal area where non-tribals, except government
servants, are not allowed to settle down without permission. Foreigners are
strictly forbidden. More than 10 foreign correspondents have been refused
permission to cover the devastation on the island.
Half the people of Car Nicobar still missing
On Wednesday around 2 pm, during a live phone-in programme, a Port Blair
resident called AIR and passed on a two-minute message to his missing
relatives in Nicobar in the local dialect.
In no time, residents of Malacca, Kinyuka, Kimous, Kakana, Chukchukiya and
Arong villages began converging on the helipad on Nicobar island.
'Since the last three days, we had taken refuge in the jungles. We didn't
get water or food. Once a day, officials visited us to provide khichdi, but
that was insufficient," Felicity, a tribal woman sitting near the helipad,
Rare Andamans tribes may have perished
She came out of the jungle after listening to the message on radio, which
she thought was an official announcement. But she was not alone; 300 people
had come along with her.
Her family has lost its home, boat and fishing net. "Our village is
finished. On radio today, the government has asked to us to reach Car
Nicobar IAF station. I heard it myself," she said.
The caller had said, "All the Nicobaris should come out of the jungles and
head for the Indian Air Force helipad. The administration with fly you to
Port Blair where you will be provided food and shelter."
His two-minute message has created a severe logistical problem at Car
Nicobar Air Force Station.
Aftershocks: 8 quakes hit A&N Is
Lt Governor Ram Kapse pulled up the producer of the programme who defended
himself saying he is not familiar with the local dialect and hence was
unaware of what the caller was saying.
"Under no circumstances will all of them be brought to Port Blair. We can't
handle so many refuges. Secondly, the IAF cannot handle the workload," the
governor's senior assistant told rediff.com.
Nicobar island was one of the worst-affected by Sunday's earthquake and the
tsunamis that followed. The geography of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
which is spread over 1,000-odd kilometres is proving to be a major biggest
stumbling block in relief operations.
'Nicobar Island has an unbearable foul smell'
Due to logistics problems, the administration is unable to supply food and
drinking water in the villages of Nicobar, prompting its residents to opt
for evacuation, which is another logistical problem.
The IAF is doing a heroic job in the absence of regular operations by
civilian airlines. In the last three days, it evacuated around 4,000 people
from Nicobar island.
It is proving to be a difficult, time consuming and extremely costly affair.
Most officers of the A&N administration think it is a futile exercise.
Tropical paradise islands are worst hit
The evacuees, who have been put up in camps in Port Blair, have no clue of
what the near or distant future holds for them. They have lost their homes,
livelihood and have now left their land behind.
"Most of the people whom we evacuated were flying for the first time in
their lives," said an IAF official adding, "When things cool down, these
tribal will not have the money to return to their villages in Nicobar. The
ship fare alone will cost them over Rs 500." The calamity continues.
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