Magazine article New Internationalist

Much to Be Done: Lessons from the Maharashtra Earthquake

Magazine article New Internationalist

Much to Be Done: Lessons from the Maharashtra Earthquake

Article excerpt

NOVEMBER, midnight. I sat facing 700 eager faces awaiting the election of the 'Social Service Society'. Wanita, the village school mistress, addressed the crowd. 'It is up to us to direct our own development,' she said.

I arrived in Nandurga, Maharashtra, seven weeks after the earthquake struck on 30 September 1993. Sixty - five villages lay destroyed. The official death toll stood at 12,682. An equal number probably lay unaccounted for beneath the rubble. In the shortcomings of the relief effort I discovered a new disaster.

Relief supplies had flooded the local market. Farmers waited for emergency rations rather than work for a crop they couldn't sell. Land prices had rocketed, stimulated by building contractors and aid agencies. The Government wanted to relocate the villagers 14 kilometres away from their fields. Nobody wanted to live in the temporary shelters. …

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