PM spells out hope for Leh victims, announces Rs 125-crore package

Written by Geeta Gupta | Geeta Gupta | Leh | Updated: Aug 18 2010, 06:59am hrs
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed here on Tuesday and went to Choglamsar areasaid to be the worst affected area by the flash floods caused by the devastating cloudbursthe brought hope for the victims.

Singh did not disappoint the victims as he gave a patient hearing to them, assured them of all possible help and announced a relief package of Rs 125 crore.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people who lost their lives in the floods. I want to assure everyone that I am with the people of Ladakh in this time of crisis and in their endeavour to reconstruct their houses that were damaged in the floods. There is no dearth of funds. We will get the houses made again in another two months before the winter sets in, the Prime Minster said, adding that money will not be a problem.

The PM, who said he would come back in October to see if all the houses had been rebuilt, interacted with the victims as well.

We have lost everything. Living in the camps now, we run to the hilltop every night. We are scared for our lives. Even a whiff of wind sends shivers down our spine now. We need to get our houses back. Two months from now we will anyway die of cold as the winters approach, said Siril Drukar, 75, who lives at the nearby ITBP camp in Choglamsar. Drukar, who has three sons and a daughter, could not hold her tears back as she spoke to Singh.

However, concerns remain about the relief work as hundreds of people are still missing. Yes, thats true. Hundreds of bodies are still buried in the rubble. How much can we do asked one of the officials from J-K Police.

Minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah said he wasnt aware of the pace of rescue work and nor were any estimates made of the damage so far.

I am sure a lot many bodies are still stuck in the debris. They might just get buried there. The PM has announced that all the damaged houses will be rebuilt. We are also procuring at least 1,000 solar lamps for the affected families and a five mega watt solar power station would be set up soon, he added.

Apart from Abdullah senior, the Prime Ministers team included J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, Governor NN Vohra, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz and Union minister for health Ghulam Nabi Azad.