RELIEF CAMPS IN NEED
OF FOOD SUPPLIES AND CLOTHING
UNITED SIKHS will update you as we receive reports. For Relief Team updates see: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/fieldreport.html
CAMPBELL BAY (Great
Nicobar Island, Indian Ocean) - The homeless in one relief camp
in Great Nicobar were found to be in need of counseling, clothing and bedding and
their children needed milk. Five hundred Sikh settlers have been without their
staple food since the Tsunami disaster destroyed flour mills and wheat stocks on
the island. The Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy enlightener scripture) was also damaged when the
Gurdwara (Sikh Place of worship) was damaged by the tidal floods.
UNITED SIKHS' GHANAIA Tsunami
Project Leader for South India, Esher Singh, obtained this first hand account
when he arrived at Campbell Bay today. He joined the Sikh community for its
first Gurdwara prayers since the Tsunami disaster. Esher Singh, who was joined
by Kulwant Singh of the Sri Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle from Bombay, visited
the victims in one relief camp after being briefed by the president of the Sri
Guru Singh Sabha Dasmesh Nagar, Paramjit Singh.
"We need about 10 tons of wheat
flour and lentils per month until the situation resumes to normal," Mr Paramjit
On hearing about the Sikh
community's problems, Esher Singh arranged with the Gurdwara in Chennai to bring
a Guru Granth Sahib, Rumalae (cloth covering) and canopy to the Gurdwara in
UNITED SIKHS GHANAIA Tsunami
Relief headquarters has been working round the clock to find a solution to the
food problems of the displaced families of the Nicobar community.
"During the tour of the relief camp, RS 450,000* was disbursed to the homeless. There are some 8,000 people in relief camps and their total needs will only be known when all the camps are visited," Esher Singh said.
UNITED SIKHS is working with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, to provide supplies of wheat and lentils to the islanders.
"Bibi Jagir Kaur has directed that part of the SGPC's grain stock, which had been sent to Naggapatnam for the Tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu, be transported to Campbell Bay," said Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, UNITED SIKHS Director of Community Relations.
"We do not know when this
transport of grain to Campbell Bay can take place but we hope it will be very
soon. I have spoken to Tamil Nadu Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala who has assured
me that the transport will be expedited," Dr Gurbachan Singh added.
Dr Gurbachan Singh also contacted
the Chief Khalsa Divan Amritsar and the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee
(DSGMC) for assistance.
Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna,
president of DSGMC, and Bhag Singh Anki of the Chief Khalsa Divan said that they
will guarantee that the supply of grains to the Sikhs in Great Nicobar is not
Since the Tsunami disaster struck, no non-governmental relief agency has been to the island. Nicobar and Andaman Islands are India.s frontier islands where, for security reasons, the only relief work being done is by the Indian armed forces.
"Our Team's priority was divided
between the relief work in Tamil Nadu and the trip to Nicobar to identify the
condition of the Tsunami victims there. Our Project Leader, Esher Singh, wasted
no time to get to Port Blair to look for a way into Nicobar," said Gurmeet Kaur,
UNITED SIKHS project co-ordinator for South India. Esher Singh's flight from
Port Blair on a civil aviation authority plane yesterday brought the first
non-governmental humanitarian aid to this island.
UNITED SIKHS will not only
arrange for immediate relief to the islanders but also identify mid to long term
developmental projects. "We will do house to house interviews to determine the
community's needs. For a start, the Gurdwara needs to be rebuilt. A new Gurdwara
building was being constructed and it has been damaged."
"We will have to fill the gaps
left by government aid. For the homeless, houses will have to be built if
governmental aid is limited," Esher Singh said.
"In the spirit of sarbat da
bhela, service to all, we will provide humanitarian aid to any needy member of
the Nicobar community," he added.
Great Nicobar, one of 324 islands
in the Indian Ocean, was settled by Sikhs in the early 70s when the Indian
Government, in a bid to secure its frontier territory, offered land to Sikh
farmers from the Panjab .
Today the 3,500 Sikh settlers on
this 1,000 square-mile island are unsure of their future.
"Many of us who have lost all our
property don't know if we should go back to Panjab or remain on the island,"
said History professor, 55 year-old Tara Singh, whose Vijay Nagar was destroyed
by the Tsunami.
When asked what could be done for the islanders he said, "Apart from psychological support and financial help for families who have lost everything, you could persuade the government to compensate the victims."
"Those who want to return to Panjab should be given land or equivalent jobs in Panjab. Those who wish to remain on Great Nicobar should be given government jobs because the salty flood waters have made their land unsuitable for farming." he told UNITED SIKHS.
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Editors Note: The figure should read Rs 45,000
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