New Delhi, Apr 27: Expanding its rescue efforts, government on Monday said in Lok Sabha that over 2500 Indians have been evacuated from quake-hit Nepal so far and free visas are being given to foreigners stranded there and want to come to India.
Members of the Lower House also decided to donate a month's salary for the relief work in Nepal with a proposal by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu being quickly accepted by the Opposition.
Responding to an impromptu debate on the devastating earthquake in Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the earthquake toll in India has reached 72 with 56 deaths reported in Bihar, 12 in UP, three in West Bengal and one in Rajasthan.
Giving details of India's mammoth rescue and relief exercise in the neighbouring country, Singh said 10 NDRF teams are already in Kathmandu and six more on their way.
An engineering task force and 18 medical units have also been rushed. "One Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is also on the way," he said, adding that an inter-ministerial team headed by a top Home Ministry official was being sent along with 250 high frequency wireless sets to coordinate rescue and relief work.
Calling it a "very big tragedy", Singh said India stands by Nepal and those affected in India in this hour of crisis. He also thanked the governments of Bihar, UP and Uttarakhand for setting up relief camps at the border with Nepal and plying buses to evacuate people. Communication experts have also been rushed to Nepal to restore the broken communication system in the country.
"We are also helping foreigners. We have decided to give free visas to those willing to come to India. Immigration facilities have been set up in this regard," he said. India has already sent 22 tonnes of food, two tonnes of medical supplies, 50 tonnes of water besides large numbers of blankets and other relief material.
With many members praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his prompt response following the quake, Singh also lauded him and conceded that he learnt about the tragedy from the Prime Minister himself. "As Home Minister, I should have been aware but it is he who informed me."