PM Visits Leh, Announces Rs 125-crore Relief Package17 August 2010
The Economic Times
Leh: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited flood-ravaged Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and announced a Rs.125-crore relief package for the victims. He also promised to visit the people again before the onset of winter to assess the situation. The prime minister, who arrived here on a day-long visit, said that all houses destroyed in the Aug 6 devastation will be reconstructed within the next two-and-a-half months. 'I was shocked to hear about the tragic loss of lives and extensive damage to property caused by the sudden cloudburst,' said the prime minister. 'My heart goes out to all those who have lost their loved ones. I pray to god to give them strength in their hour of bereavement,' he said while underlining solidarity with the flood victims. He added that he wanted to visit Leh earlier but could not do so as it would have hampered the rescue and relief work. 'Hospitals, schools, electricity connections and roads will be rebuilt and all rehabilitation works will be completed within the next two-and-a-half months and before the onset of winter. Funds will not be a problem,' he said. The prime minister said the relief will be given from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. He said both the central and state governments will take all possible steps to help the families affected by the flash floods triggered by a cloudburst that killed at least 179 people, including six foreigners, while 200 people are still missing. Manmohan Singh also announced a monitoring committee under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary to ensure effective implementation of various schemes for the people. 'Before the onset of winter, I will again visit you and inspect the houses that will be constructed for you,' he promised. He had earlier announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs.100,00 to the kin of each of those killed and Rs.50,000 each to the seriously injured from the PM's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Besides the Rs.125 crore, a grant of Rs.5 crore each will be provided to the Leh & Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils under the Special PMNRF package to meet immediate requirements, the prime minister said. He also announced assistance of Rs.200,000 for each fully damaged house in Ladakh and Rs.100,000 for every partially damaged house. The prime minister lauded the 'brave personnel' of the army, the air force, Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on 'their courage, tireless efforts and deep concern' to help out those hit by the devastating floods. 'Altogether it has been a fine example of prompt and coordinated action in the face of nature's fury. The focus should now shift to restoration of public services and rehabilitation,' he stressed. In his Independence Day address to the nation Sunday, the prime minister had condoled the deaths and said the government 'will do everything' possible for the rehabilitation of the people.