Saturday, October 26, 2013

World Bank approves $250 Million for Uttarakhand Relief

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The World Bank has approved USD 250 million assistance for Uttarakhand, which was hit hard in June by rains and landslides that killed 580 people, to help the state undertake rehabilitation work and strengthen its capacity for disaster management.

“In order to respond in a timely manner, the project was fast-tracked under the World Bank’s emergency procedures and was prepared within a 3-month period,” said a release.

India had sought assistance from multi-lateral agencies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for undertaking rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand. ADB too is expected to finalise its assistance package soon.

“A team has been in Dehradun from the day the request for assistance was sent by the government. We all know winter is quite harsh in these parts and so it was important for us to get the project going and help shelter people before winter hits them”, World Bank’s country director in India Onno Ruhl said.

Earlier, a joint World Bank and ADB team conducted a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (JRDNA) at the request of the Indian government to rebuild the state’s infrastructure and assets lost in the June disaster.
The JRDNA has estimated the physical damages across a range of sectors and calculated the cost of reconstruction at about $661 million. The sectors covered included housing and public infrastructure, roads and bridges, water supply and sanitation, livelihoods (in agriculture, fisheries and medium and small-scale enterprises), tourism, energy and environment.

“Disasters, like the one we witnessed in Uttarakhand, can roll back decades of development and are a fundamental threat to economic development and the fight against poverty,” Ruhl said, adding that this project will focus on both reconstruction and disaster preparedness.

“It will help the government of Uttarakhand with immediate relief efforts by building houses and public infrastructure including small roads and bridges. A very important part of the project will be to help the state be better prepared for the future,” he added.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

IAF Donates Rs 8.3 Crore in PM's Relief Fund for Uttarakhand

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New Delhi: After having rescued over 23,000 people in disaster-hit Uttarakhand, the Indian Air Force has now contributed for their rehabilitation by donating Rs 8.33 crore in the Prime Minister's relief fund.

The amount was collected by IAF through donation of a day's salary by its over 1.7 lakh officers and men deployed across the country, Air Force officials said here.

The cheque was presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne at the Air Force Day reception at the IAF chief's residence on Tuesday.

In one of the largest relief operations in the country since Independence, IAF played a major role in Uttarakhand after floods caused by incessant rains struck large-scale devastation there beginning June 16 night.

The Air Force airlifted more than 23,000 people -- flying more than 2,140 sorties and dropping/landing a total of 3,82,400 kg of relief material and equipment.

At the peak of its operations in the hill state, IAF had deployed more than 50 aircraft and helicopters. The operations went on till the end of July.

The IAF choppers involved in the sorties included the Mi-26, Mi-17V5, Mi-17, ALH Dhruv besides their mainstay in the difficult terrain -- Cheetah and Chetak light helicopters.

Friday, October 4, 2013

2,500 families in Uttarakhand to get prefabricated houses

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Dehradun: Uttarakhand government will build prefabricated houses to rehabilitate 2,500 families rendered homeless by the mid-June calamity in the state.


This will be in addition to a compensation of Rs 2 lakh already given to each person who lost their house in the tragedy, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna told reporters in Dehradun on Thursday while announcing the state government’s rehabilitation policy framed in the wake of the calamity.


3,100 families were rendered homeless by the catastrophic floods, out of which 600 will be rehabilitated by corporate houses and NGOs and the rest by the state government, he said.

About a dozen villages have been identified in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts where the prefabricated houses will come up, he said.

Each prefabricated house to be constructed at a cost of Rs 6 lakh and will have two rooms, a toilet and guaranteed durability of 30 years, Bahuguna said.

“Our effort is to finish the construction of these houses before the onset of peak winter months,” he said.
He said if a targeted beneficiary does not want to live in these houses, he will be given Rs 4 lakh in addition to the Rs 2 lakh already given to him as compensation, apart from a 1000 sq ft plot free of cost to help him resettle.

However, the Chief Minister clarified that the beneficiaries will be allowed to resettle and relocated only in areas adjacent to their original homes and not in the plain areas.

In case of a beneficiary choosing not to move into the prefabricated houses built for them, they will have to take the clearance of the District Magistrate concerned to settle in a location of their choice.

Noting that the state government has not yet been able to provide compensation to Kedarnath residents who lost their property in the tragedy, Bahuguna said he will hold a meeting with them on 11 October, listen to them and then ascertain the quantum of compensation to be given to them.

Yatra to the char dhams will be resumed with the commencement of the Navratras on 5 October when pilgrims will be allowed to visit Badrinath and Kedarnath.

However, for the first week, not more than 200 persons a day will be allowed to visit these Himalayan shrines considering the condition of the newly repaired roads.

The number may be increased later, he said.

Accusing main opposition BJP of doing politics over the June calamity, Bahuguna said it should play the role of a responsible opposition and desist from instigating disaster-hit people against the government.

“We welcome suggestions from them (BJP leaders) on how to improve the pace of rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts but their going from one place to another, holding public meetings and instigating people against the government is thoroughly unacceptable,” the Chief Minister said.

Instead of finding fault with the government, they should tell people what they did while in power for those affected by natural calamities which are an annual feature in the state, he said.

Bahuguna claimed that no government in Uttarakhand had tried to help the flood hit people of the state as generously as the government headed by him.

“We have relaxed several norms to widen the ambit of beneficiaries so that no one affected by the calamity is left out. It is something never done by any government in the state,” he said.

Sources: Firstpost.com