Govt. consistently reviewing Leh situation, says Chidambaram

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New Delhi, Aug.16 (ANI): Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram on Monday said the situation (in Leh) is being reviewed continuously with the Ministry of Home Affairs coordinating with all ministries, departments, agencies concerned for convergence of the rescue and relief efforts.

"The Leh-Srinagar road link has been restored and Leh-Manali road is open for light vehicles," said Chidambaram here today in the Lok Sabha and informed that besides nine BSNL towers had been restored and mobile connectivity established in city area.

He said: "The thrust would now be on the rehabilitation of the affected people."

Making a statement in Lok Sabha on the situation caused by cloudburst in Leh, Chidambaram said: "The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been requested to assess the damage and submit a detailed memorandum so that necessary assistance is considered by the Government of India for relief operations as well as long term rehabilitation."

He assured the House that the Central Government would extend all possible help to the Government of J and K for relief and rehabilitation of the affected persons.

"The government's focus in the flash flood affected Leh town was on the restoration of road link and telecommunication for which Border Roads Organization and BSNL were working round the clock," he informed the House.

"The landline connectivity would be restored fully by Aug.31," he added.

Chidambaram said that heavy machinery have been airlifted to Leh to expedite restoration of road links. Bailey bridge components are also being airlifted over the last few days. Electricity in Leh town has been restored.

Informing the House on the tragedy that struck Leh recently, Chidambaram stated that a massive cloud burst occurred in Leh after torrential rains lashed Leh and its surrounding areas at about 0100-0200 hrs on the intervening night of 5-6 August, 2010.

This triggered flash floods in Leh Town and surrounding areas of Choglumsar, Pathar Sahib, Phyang, Hanoyogma and Nimu.

Since the tragedy occurred during the night there has been substantial loss of precious human lives. Damage to property and disruption of communication and services have also been widely reported. A full assessment is under way.

"As per the Government of J and K's latest assessment, 179 persons including six foreign nationals have lost their lives and approximately 400 persons have been injured and treated in various Army and other medical facilities," he said.

Chidambaram said that there has also been extensive damage to public utilities viz BSNL exchange, civil hospital, airport, drinking water supply works, National Highways connecting Leh-Manali, Leh-Kargil and also to private properties.

Chidambaram told the House that on receipt of the information of the cloud burst, Government of India immediately swung into action and responded to the requirements projected by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir for undertaking rescue and relief operations in the affected areas.

" More than 6000 personnel of Army, Air Force, Border Roads Organization, NDRF and ITBP have been deployed along with rescue equipment to assist the civil administration in relief operations," he said and further informed that "large quantities of tents (800), blankets (6900), tarpaulins (620), mattresses (1000), food packets and bottled water have been sent. Contributions from the charitable organizations and other sources have also been airlifted."

The Home Minister informed that apart from the medical teams available with Army/CPMFs/State, etc. one medical team consisting of 08 Doctors and 04 Nurses along with 10 Qtls. of emergent surgical/medical consumables have been deployed in the affected area.

"Additional medical supplies are being dispatched. Medical equipments have been sent to the affected area," the Union Minister said.

He also informed that the Civil hospital has been made functional and two water purification machines of 4000 ltrs per hour capacity have been delivered at Leh.

"An additional water purification plant has also been sent. Sufficient quantities of chlorine/water purification tablets have been dispatched. 30% water supply has been resumed," he informed.

Stating that over 7,400 passengers have been evacuated from Leh to Delhi/Jammu between Aug.8 to 15, Chidambaram said: "These aircrafts have also carried more than 25 tonnes of relief material to Leh, free of cost since 8.8.2010.

Air Force has carried out 202 sorties and airlifted 269.64 tonnes of relief material and equipments and 789 passengers and 15 dead bodies, he informed.

He informed that Prime Minister's Office has announced "an ex-gratia amount of Rs. one Lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased."

"As on date, Rs.429.24 crore is available with the State Government in their State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) account for carrying out rescue and relief operations," the Home Minister stated.

On Aug.7, a high level central team consisting of Union Ministers Shri Farooq Abdullah, Gulam Nabi Azad and Prithvi Raj Chavan visited the affected area on 07.08.10 to assess the situation, he informed. (ANI)

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