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All-party meet to tackle tsunami challenges: Manmohan

Saturday 1 January 2005

By Our Special Correspondent

VIJAYAWADA, DEC. 31. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said here today that he would convene an all-party meeting ``in a day or two’’ to mobilise the collective national will to meet the challenges caused by the tsunami devastation.

Dr. Singh announced an immediate assistance of Rs. 100 crores each for Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. ``The situation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is grim and the Centre will meet all the costs of rehabilitation in the islands,’’ he said.

`Integrated relief command’

The Centre had deputed two Ministers to supervise the relief operations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. An `integrated relief command’ had been constituted and the Lieutenant Governor would be its chairman. The commander of the armed forces in the islands would be the vice-chairman and the chief secretary, its member-secretary.

The Prime Minister, who reviewed the relief and rehabilitation work in Andhra Pradesh with the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, and senior officials at the Gannavaram airport, near here, told a press conference that the Centre and the Governments of the affected States would stand `shoulder by shoulder’ and work `hand in hand’ for effective relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

The tsunami had devastated 2,000-km coastline in the south and 6,187 people had died in Tamil Nadu. Over three lakh people had been displaced and 25,000 houses fully damaged in the State. The Governments had immediately launched relief measures on an unprecedented scale. ``Resources will not be allowed to come in the way of relief work,’’ he asserted.

Stressing the need for providing basic amenities, including temporary shelters, safe drinking water, clothes and utensils for the affected people, he said the Housing and Urban Development Corporation had earmarked Rs. 10,000 crores for construction of houses. There was also an immediate need for providing boats and fishing nets to fishermen and books to children.

Dr. Singh said the Centre had sanctioned Rs.1 lakh each as ex-gratia to the families of the deceased. The Reserve Bank had instructed the bankers to liberally extend loans to the affected, besides making ``maximum concessions’’.

Soon after his arrival at the airport, Dr. Singh met the tsunami victims at the specially-erected pandals. He distributed cheques for Rs.1 lakh each to five families which had lost the bread-earners. Fishing nets were distributed. He was accompanied by the Union Ministers, Sharad Pawar, Dasari Narayana Rao and Panabaka Lakshmi.

Dr. Reddy thanked Dr. Singh for sanctioning Rs. 100 crores to Andhra Pradesh.

See online : The Hindu

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