Rescue, Relief & Rehabilitation for Tsunami victims


The Tsunami catastrophe that struck Asia on 26 December 2004 is one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. Although the major impact was felt in India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand, several other countries were also affected including Myanmar. More than 250,000 people died and thousands injured. Overall, an estimated 1.5 to 5 million people were directly or indirectly affected. Damage and destruction of infrastructure destroyed people’s livelihoods, and left many homeless and without adequate water, healthcare facilities and houses.

The killer Tsunami had devastating effect. By the end of the day more than 150,000 people were dead or missing and millions more were homeless in 11 countries, making it perhaps the most destructive tsunami in history. In India the waves completely leveled villages and devastated cities along the southeastern coast, resulting in over 9,000 deaths. The vast majority of the casualties took place in the state of Tamil Nadu. Several fishermen villages in Tamil Nadu were completely washed away nearly wiping out the whole population in some areas. Thousands of fishermen lost their boats and other fishing equipment in the disaster. Nagapattinam district was the worst hit region of Tamil Nadu, accounting for over half of the deaths (5,500) from the tsunami.

The people mostly affected by the tsunami were the local fishermen coming from fishing communities and over 50,000 fishing vessels were damaged by the waves. The tsunami disaster has had a significant impact on the livelihoods of some of the more vulnerable sections of society along the coasts of the affected states. Majorities were probably at or below the poverty line and about a third may be from the underprivileged and socially excluded groups.

As many as 18 villagers in Tamil Nadu lost their lives when the tsunami hit the village, apart from their dwellings; many lost their very means of livelihood – Fibre boats, oar boats, mechanized catamarans and fishing nets.

When the tragedy hit the neighboring state, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji extended his help and gave a call to Mysoreans in Karnataka to stand by the people of Tamil Naidu.

A meeting was convened at Rajendra Bhavan chaired by Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji which was attended by prominent personalities, eminent citizens, educationists, industrialists, senior government officers and social activists, philanthropists, donors and voluntary organizations functioning in the district.

Thus the Mysore Citizens Forum (MCF) came into existence and the idea of bringing all on one platform to help Tsunami Victims was conceived.

Unique initiative

MCF has undertaken a unique initiative that takes goodwill between two neighboring States to a new level of construction and collaboration through private efforts. The aim of MCF was to take the tsunami-hit community of the fishing village to a whole new plane of empowered existence through educating children, forming women’s self-help groups, and developing bio-shield for protection from future disasters.


MCF is committed to provide relief rescue and rehabilitation addressing the problems of the people. It aims at working towards improving the quality of life of the people who are in difficulty and need help.

It is a matter of coincidence that a fund raising and collecting initiative began on the occasion of 1045 Jayanti celebration of Adi Jagadguru Shivarateeshwara Bhagvathpadaru the founder Seer of Suttur Math. MCF team visited the Tsunami hit areas and distributed the immediate necessities like food, medicines, clothing and so on.

A number of organizations joined hands in the good cause: They are

  • JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore
  • Sri Vishweshwara Teertha Swamiji, Pejawar Mutt, Udupi
  • Ramakrishna Ashram, Mysore
  • Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram, Mysore
  • Sri Ragvendra Mutt, Mantralaya
  • Rotary Club , Mysore
  • Star of Mysore and Mysore Mitra
  • Andolana
  • Rotary West, Mysore
  • ING Vyasa Bank, Bangalore
  • AT & S Mysore
  • Swami Vivekanamda Youth Movement, Sargur, H.D. Kote Tq.
  • Mahajan Group of Institutions, Mysore
  • Vidya Vikas Educational Trust, Mysore
  • Lions Club, Chamarajnagar
  • Sri Bhramara Trust, Mysore
  • Abdul Nazir Sab State Institute of Rural Development, Mysore
  • Tectonics, Mysore
  • Tetra Valves, Mysore
  • Mahattan Associates, Bangalore
  • Press Club, Mysore
  • Lions Club, Yelandur

And many more came forward to be part of the rescue and relief and rehabilitation effort.

MCF Committee:

MCF formed a committee headed by His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji including the following:

  • Sri B.N. Betkerur, Executive Secretary of JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore
  • Sri P.V. Giri, Managing Director, Hotel Siddartha, Mysore
  • Sri R. Vasudev Bhatt, Ramya Creations, Mysore
  • Sri Narendra, Mysore
  • Sri K.B. Ganathpay, Editor, Star of Mysore & Mysore Mitra, Mysore
  • Sri M.S. Nagaraja Roa, President, Rotary West,Mysore
  • Smt. Maduri Tatthachari, Sri Bhramara Trust, Mysore
  • Sri K. Ranganaath, Representative, Bharat Icon Trust
  • Sri R. Vasudevmurthy, President, Mahajana Group of Institutions
  • Sri Vasu, Chairaman, Vidya Vikas Education Trust ®
  • Sri S. Rajagopalchar, Secretary, Ragvendra Swamy Mutt, Mantralaya
  • Dr.R. Balasubramanyam, President, Vivekananda Youth Movement, Sargur,H.D.Kote Tq
  • Sri Rajendra, President Hotel, Mysore
  • Sri Jagadish babu, Sankalpa group,Mysore
  • Sri Ravi C. Rao, CTO, Surya Soft ware, Mysore
  • Sri Rajashekar Koti, Editor, Andolana News paper, Mysore
  • Sri Ashokanand, Director, Abdul Nazir Saab Rural Development Traning Center, Mysore
  • Sri G. Mohan, Consultant, Abdul Nazir Saab Rural Development Traning Center, Mysore
  • Sri S. Lokesh, Premier Computer Services, Mysore
  • Sri Malikarajuna Swami, Secretary, Lions Club, Yelandur
  • Sri S.Puttarajappa, Superintendent, JSS Pharmacy College, Mysore
  • Sri K.M. Nagannachar, Director, General Development JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore
  • Dhyanavloka
  • Sri H. V. Prasad, Executive Trustee, Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Ashram, Mysore
  • Sri R Mahesh, Asst. Admn officer, JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore

The committee members of MCF meet every month to discuss the strategies and steps to be taken to extend help to the victims immediately. The MCF has formed a committee on Relief and Rehabilitation to raise funds to mitigate the pains and ensure the effective impact rehabilitation of victims. It aspires to set up consolidated Mysore Fund from the contributions pooled by its members so that a substantial sum becomes readily available for a major rehabilitation work in the target area, and the benefits of the funds reach genuine targets directly and effectively.

It would also, of course, lead to concerted action in achieving the objectives of the mission and would provide a new roadmap for replication of similar experiments in its own backyard, the city of Mysore, for management of disasters and other critical aspects of civic life.

“Mission Goodwill: for Tsunami Victims”

MCF Team visit villages hit by Killer Tsunami waves

The MCF team visited various villages destroyed by the Tsumani and did a preliminary assessment of the damage and their immediate requirement. They visited, Villipuram, Pondicherry, Kanyakumari and other villages.

MCF selected Modaliyarkuppam village in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, a fishing village, inhabited by 1,000 people of 275 families which was hit seriously and began the relief and rehabilitation work. A unique feature of this village was that it was a dry village with no sale or consummation of alcohol as told by the villages.

Sri TN Yeerambu, IAS Officer of that Jurisdiction and Dr. Marudurai joined hands with MCF and supported the initiative. ABDUL NAZIR SAB STATE INSTITUTE OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT (ANSSIRD) conducted a study and inspected the situation and submitted a report to MCF committee.

Rescue & Relief

The relief began with immediate supply of food, medicines and clothes to the victims and nutrition supplement to the children as immediate measure to help the affected society. In the initial phases people were rescued and temporarily given shelter in nearby schools and temples.

The MCF team’s first move was to repair the schools that was badly damaged and set the schooling for the children. Counseling sessions were organized for the children who were in a state and shock and mentally disturbed after the tragedy. Mr. Giri announced that the forum has raised donations and contributions amounting to Rs. 2.25 crores. It would require Rs. 3.7 crores to implement its entire relief package in the village as planned.

The MCF team came to a conclusion that to undertake a massive relief and rescue operation as planned in phased manner.

The whole course of action was divided into three stages.

  1. Primary Rehabilitation
  2. Livelihood restoration by providing their requirement
  3. Permanent Rehabilitation by housing

Primary Rehabilitation

In the first stage, families and the victims affected by the Tsunami were provided immediate relief with food water, medicines, medical care and temporary tents. A sum of Rs. 50 lakhs has been spent on distribution of life kits and food material and repair of school building. Another Rs. 50 lakh has been spent subsequently for motorized boats, which is part of occupational relief.

In the first stage, families and the victims affected by the Tsunami were provided immediate relief with food water, medicines, medical care and temporary tents. A sum of Rs. 50 lakhs has been spent on distribution of life kits and food material and repair of school building. Another Rs. 50 lakh has been spent subsequently for motorized boats, which is part of occupational relief.

Livelihood restoration:

The primary issue in the fishing villages was to provide fishing boats and equipment to rebuild their lives. MCF along with the a contribution of Rs 50 lakhs from ING Vysya Bank, 30 electric boats were purchased and given to the fisherman to restart their lives as a livelihood restoration endeavor by MCF. This was the major first time contribution by ING Vysya bank.

Permanent Rehabilitation: Housing “Mission Goodwill: for Tsunami Victims

To provide permanent shelters, MCF entered into an agreement with the government of Tamil Nadu, which provided the land to facilitate the MCF to execute the housing Project.

Phase I: Mysore Citizens’ Forum (MCF) hand over 92 houses to tsunami victims

MCF in a meeting on July 19, 2005 gave a proposal to Tamil Naidu government to construct 275 houses as a replacement of houses, which were washed away by the killer waves. The MCF singed an MOU with Tamil Naidu government.

The Tamil Nadu government initially gave land required to build 92 houses. In August 2005, Bhoomi Pooja was performed by His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji along with dignitaries, District Collector of Villipuram district, MCF team and other members of MCF, prominent citizens of Mysore and Tamil Naidu.

As part of the Mission Goodwill, MCF handed over 92 houses on 11.2.2006 constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.93 crores on 5.29 acres of land in Mudaliyarkuppam, fishing village. This was the first phase of rehabilitation program.

The houses were handed over to the tsunami victims by the then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in the gracious presence of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji and Karnataka Pontiffs, Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamiji, Sri Swamiji, Sri Raghvendra Mutt, Mantralaya , MLA’s, MCF members and other dignitaries.

II Phase:

To build houses in second phase, Chef Minister HD Kumarswamy gave assurance to contribute funds from Karnataka natural calamity fund.

Accordingly the Government of Karnataka contributed Rs. 336 Lakhs fund from Government of Karnataka. A joint Committee was formed with Department of Revenue, Secretary – Natural Calamity, supervision engineer of PWD, Joint Secretary FD (Admin) and MCF members.

On 21.6.2006, Tamil Naidu government gave 265 acres of land with facilities of power, underground drainage, roads and so on to construct 160 more houses. During the second phase, each house was built on a 430 sq feet area. Due to space constraint, houses were built block wise. Each block consisted of 4 houses each costing Rs. 2,10,000. The plan was formally approved by Tamil Naidu government; the houses were constructed by the contractor Sri Ratan Sabhapati.

The second phase of houses were handed over to the victims on July 29, 2007, by Chief Minister H D Kumarswamy, in the gracious presence of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, Karnataka Pontiffs, Sri Ganapathi Sachidanada Swamji, Sri Swamiji Raghvendra Mutt, Mantralaya , MLA’s, Chairman of the erstwhile Mysore Agenda Task Force R. Guru, Executive Secretary of JSS Mahavidyapeetha B.N. Betkerur and industrialist K. Narendra, and Minister, Sri Panner Selvam along with other dignitaries who were present on the occasion.

MCF “Mission Goodwill” Tsunami 2004:

When the Tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast in 2004, there was unprecedented destruction of life and property. MCF was formed and launched “Project goodwill” that hastened to help the people affected by the catastrophe. The organization involved in relief and rehabilitation work in Modaliyarkuppam village Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, a fishing village, inhabited by 1,000 people of 275 families.

The project was launched by a delegation of the forum that visited the village led by Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of Sri Suttur Mutt, along with P V Giri, V K Jagadish Babu, Vasu, R Vasudeva Murthy, Dr Balasubramanyam, H S Ashokanand, R Vasudeva Bhat, Thirumalai, Rajendra and K Narendra. Villupuram Collector Balachandran was also involved.

MCF provided food and clothes to the affected people and nutrition supplement and medicines to the children as immediate measure to help the community. Two motorized boats, costing Rs 1, 82,000 were handed over to the fishermen. The Suttur seer flagged off the boats to the sea, which brought hope to the fishermen, who had not ventured into the sea since the tsunami episode. Thirty boats were later given to the families of fishermen to help them lead their lives.

The school building of the village was repaired and 92 houses were built as a permanent relief measure. After this, with the assistance of the Government of Karnataka, MCF built another 160 houses in the second stage and they were handed over to tsunami victims on February 11, 2006. The houses constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.93 crore on 5.29 acres of land allotted by Tamil Nadu Government were ready for occupation.

A ‘participatory development model’ for long-term rehabilitation initiative was set up with the assistance of Dr R Balasubramanyam, President, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, Mysore district. Hygiene management and provision of economic and physical security are also part of the development plan formulated by the Suttur Mutt.

During the second phase of the housing project, “Mysore Model Colony,” construction of another 58 houses will be taken up at a cost of Rs. 1.22 crores. This is part of a package of relief and reconstruction solutions conceived by MCF Forum.

(When Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy hands over keys of about 160 permanent tsunami houses at a village in Villupuram later this month, it will once again serve as a reminder that the people of the two States do not wait for relations between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to improve to help one another.

Immediately after the tsunami, it was a phone call between alumni of Ramakrishna Vidyasala, Mysore, one now in Thanjavur and the other in Mysore that triggered the cooperation between the two States. “Initially, my class mate Narendra and five of his friends landed up. From then on, we zeroed in on Modaliyarkuppam and have been working here,” said S. Marudhudurai, a surgeon with the Thanjavur Medical College.

The number of volunteers pouring in with cash and offer to help kept increasing in size to the extent that they formed an informal group, the Mysore Citizens Forum, merely to get more organized and direct their relief efforts better. The people from Mysore also contributed close to Rs.1.5 crore towards the project. Initially, the aim was to cater to the livelihood needs of fishermen. The village panchayat requested them to replace the 30 boats that were lost in the tsunami. This was done, partly with the aid of a Tamil Nadu government subsidy.

“We ran out of money around this time. We approached the JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore and also the Karnataka government,” recalls Dr. Marudhidurai. There was no hesitation on anyone’s part at any point, he adds. Soon, the government, a religious institution and a loosely-knit citizen’s forum were working in tandem and implementing a project worth Rs.600 lakh. The package included construction of 250 houses, afforestation and supplementary vocational training. In the first phase, in the allotted land, 90 houses were built. Now, the rest are ready. “I should tell you that these are the largest houses built anywhere. We built a house of 425 sq.ft.” he says.

Early this month, Mr. Kumaraswamy wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi informing him of the progress and his intention to visit the State for the inauguration. “In the second phase, 160 houses with an outlay of Rs.336 lakh have been completed and will be given to the beneficiaries,” he said and added that he would preside over the inaugural function on September 29.)

Dr. APJ Kalam lauded the efforts of MCF

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam appreciated the efforts of MCF and citizens of Mysore and the People who responded with unprecedented generosity in implementing the project. “Mission Goodwill was a maiden initiative and MCF hopes that it will emerge as a shining symbol of fraternity and goodwill.”

Other initiatives

The Suttur Mutt came forward and adopted more than 500 children in tsunami-hit areas, particularly from Mudaliyarkuppam village. Mahajana Educational Institutions and Vidya Vikas Educational Institutions also offered free education for affected children.

Beyond borders

Besides providing relief to the victims of Tsunami, MCF contributed its mite when earthquakes occurred in Latur (Maharashtra) and Bhuj (Gujarat). For all these activities, the forum has always received external support and encouragement from various institutions and organizations of Mysore.