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Sunanda will receive Rs 25 lakhs

December 5, 2008
Ramesh Kumar, Maharashtra's principal secretary, relief and rehabilitation, and Idzes Kundan, Mumbai's collector, surrounded by a posse of policeman, blue-uniformed BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation security guards, and assistants with note pads, enter the little home.

They crisply get down to business. First, they offer their condolences and ask Sunanda some sympathetic questions about her situation -- which is not good; Sunanda has not worked before and will now have to support two children. And then they explain their help package to her. They promise to place Rs 25 lakhs in a fixed account. This money cannot be touched for 10 years, but she can draw the interest. They promise a job, a home and education for her two children.

"We will give them a home wherever they want," says Kumar.

Adds Kundan: "And education for the children till they finish whatever professional courses they plan to do."

The collector is armed with lists that she efficiently consults as they decide the next location. A call comes in. She tells Kumar that the police will guide them to the next location. "We are trying to visit as many locations as we can. It might be difficult to do all."

Kumar explains that it is a symbolic gesture. They move on with their team for the next destination.

Sunanda seems awed by the offer. She said the government had already dispatched the cheque, but it went to their village in Mahad in coastal Maharashtra. "I would like to work at whatever job they offer me."

Her husband's cousin is more sceptical and perhaps more practical. "They said they would re-issue the cheque. But they did not ask her for her name." When he pointed this out to the officials they said they would send their staff to get the details later.

Image: Ramesh Kumar, principal secretary, Maharashtra, left, and Idzes Kundan, collector, Mumbai city.

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