Centre mulling long term aid package for quake victims
6 October 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: The Centre is mulling a long-term package to boost the collective efforts by the State Governments and NGOs to help the people affected by the killer earthquake that rocked Jammu and Kashmir on October eight last year. 'We are not claiming that the miseries and sufferings of the people affected by the quake have been mitigated completely but we have given the best possible support to the people in their time of need,' Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said ahead of the first anniversary of the quake. Azad, who will accompany Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to the frontier regions of Tetwal and Tangdhar on October eight, said the rehabilitation efforts seemed to be long process but the 'mission mode' approach of the State Government ensured that no one was without shelter before the onset of winter last year. The quake measuring 7.4 on the richter scale struck areas close to Line of Control in the State and left nearly 1,000 people dead, mostly in the Uri and Tangdhar regions in north Kashmir. The Centre provided Rs 467 crore under an interim package, and is now mulling a long-term rehabilitation programme submitted by an inter-ministerial team in consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority, an official in the Union Home Ministry said in New Delhi. The official said the amount handed over to the State Government so far included Rs 328 crore from the National Calamity Contingency Fund, Rs 134.04 crore as part of a special package for the State and Rs 32.42 crore from the calamity relief fund. The Union Cabinet had decided to provide a total of Rs 242.95 crore as a Special Package for the State, and the remaining Rs 108 crore will be handed over to Central agencies involved in relief operations. Timely intervention by the State and the Centre along with NGOs preventing the situation from taking a turn for the worse. 'The effort of my Government was to ensure quick rehabilitation and construction of permanent structures before the onset of winter,' said Azad, who was personally monitoring the rehabilitation process even before he took over as Chief Minister. 'They have already spent one winter in harsh conditions and we have released the rest of Rs 60,000 (promised to people whose homes were destroyed) in one go so that permanent structures come up before snowfall this year,' he said. Azad said the Centre extended liberal assistance to the State to overcome the challenge posed by the quake and the concern shown by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also 'inspired the administration to work in overdrive for the relief of the people'. Though there were allegations of embezzlement of relief money earlier, the mechanism for providing relief was made transparent and effective with the constitution of Special Lok adalats for distributing money to affected people, he said. Meanwhile, Mr Patil would visit Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday on the first anniversary of devastating earthquake. Mr Patil, accompanied by top officials of the Home Ministry would visit Titwal and Tangdhar districts of the State. In Titwal, they would inspect the infrastructure set by the security forces after the quake, and assess the relief and rehabilitation work done for the quake-affected people. It may be mentioned here that Mr Azad visited the quake affected areas of Uri, Tanghdar and Poonch sectors this week to assess the rehabilitation work going on at these places. On his visit to Kamlakote-Uri and Poonch, apart from inspecting the newly constructed houses, Mr Azad interacted with individual families there and addressed a public gathering. At Poonch on October 4, he said that the Government has provided a cash assistance of Rupees 422 crore to last year’s October 8 killer earthquake victims. In addition to the disbursement of this huge cash assistance, the earthquake affected people have been provided with other kinds of relief under special package. Mr Azad said that on an average each earthquake affected individual family received Rupees 1.35 lakh, which was the highest compensation given so far in such natural calamities in the entire country. The Chief Minister said that with the disbursement of last and final installment of Rupees 60,000 to the earthquake affected families, the target of completing all structures damaged due to the killer quake, shall be achieved within a definite time-frame.