Centre will do everything possible for rehabilitation of Leh cloudburst victims: PM

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir), Aug 17 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday said the focus should now shift to restoration of public services and rehabilitation of the Leh cloudburst victims, assuring that no efforts would be spared by the Central Government in this regard.

"We will fund a special package amounting to a sum of around Rs 125 crore for the Ladkah region from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). This will cover the restoration of drinking water supply, renovation of the power supply system including DG sets, repairs to the SNM Hospital and replacement of the C.T. Scan machine, in Leh," said Dr Singh.

"It will also cover the restoration of the water supply system and the supply of DG set(s) of appropriate capacity to Kargil. In addition, untied grant of Rs 5 crore each will be provided to the Leh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils under the Special PMNRF package, to meet emergent requirements," he added.

Further expressing deep grief over the loss of lives in Leh, The Prime Minister, who arrived in Leh on a day-long visit today, said he wanted to visit earlier, but thought his visit could have hampered the rescue and relief executions.

"I was shocked to hear about the tragic loss of lives and extensive damage to property caused by the sudden cloudburst on the night of August 5-6, 2010. 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," said Dr Singh.

"I also wish the injured persons speedy recovery. I wanted to come earlier. But, I felt that my visit earlier could have hampered the rescue and relief executions. My Cabinet colleagues Dr. Abdullah, G. N. Azad and Prithviraj Chavan, have already visited Leh, supervised the rescue operations and briefed me," he added.

The Prime Minister congratulated the brave personnel of the Army, the Air Force, BRO, ITBP and the NDRF on their courage, tireless efforts and deep concern for their fellow citizens in distress.

"The State and the Central Government worked hand in hand and ensured that emergency supplies like tents, blankets, turpentine, food and water urgently dispatched and distributed. The doctors and nurses have also done a very good job," said Dr Singh.

"I must congratulate the Leh Council, the Deputy Commissioner and his team and the senior officers of the State Government, for their prompt response. All together, it has been a fine example of prompt and coordinated action in the face of nature's fury," he added.

Dr. Singh also held a meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and state officials to discuss relief and rehabilitation measures.

He was accompanied by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Saifuddin Soz.

The Prime Minister had earlier announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

The 434-kilometer vital Srinagar-Leh road damaged by the recent flash floods and landslides triggered by cloudbursts has been restored after days of hectic work done by the engineers and men of the Army, Border Roads Organisation and allied agencies.

The total death toll rose to over 189, including 18 Nepali and Tibetan workers, three French, one Spanish and one Italian tourist. Around 500 people sustained injuries in the natural calamity.

Five villages Sabu, Phyang, Nimoo, Choglumsar and Shapoo are worst hit by the sudden downpour and flash floods. Old Leh city is also among the worst affected. (ANI)

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