V K Duggal, the Union Home Secretary, has assured that the Jammu and Kashmir government would be provided 30,000 tents by the end of October and no person who had been displaced due to the massive earthquake that hit north Kashmir on October 8 would be left shelterless.
Addressing a news conference in New Delhi on his return from his two-day trip to the valley, Duggal denied news reports that some children have died because of extreme winter.
"I have checked with the health authorities. There is no epidemic and no death has taken place because of the cold wintry conditions. Twenty six villages have been adopted by various agencies including the army, National Thermal Power Corporation, Delhi government and all these villages would be ready with shelters by the first week of November," he said.
Duggal also added that 30 all-purpose community centres are being built and would be ready by November 7. Another 70 would be ready by the end of November, when it starts snowing in places like Thangdhar. Each of these community centres can accomodate over 200 people - 'so no-one would be without shelter'.
He said that while pucca, semi-pucca and pre-fab houses are being built, help is also being given to those villagers who want to rebuild their own houses. "They have been given an advance of Rs 40,000 each and we are distributing Rs 3 crore per day. Over 2 lakh blankets have also been distributed and more could be rushed in case the need so arises," Duggal added.
He commended the Jammu and Kashmir government for swinging into action hours after the tragedy and mobilising resources to rescue those trapped under the debris. Duggal also commended the Army and other agencies that were helping with the relief work.
"Ninety five villages in Uri in Baramulla district and 42 villages in Tangdhar in Kupwara district are affected, of which 14 have been severly hit," he said.
The worst-affected villages are Kamalkote, Badi-Sarain, Sultan Dhakki, Shardah, Chapper, Gwalta and Chatrass in Uri in Barmulla and Teetwal, Ibokote, Dildar, Taad, Trimala, Amrohi and Kadi in Tangdhar in Kupwara district.
"The total number of dead is 1308, including 1206 civilians and 102 defence and central para-military personnel. 6622 are injured and the number of houses damaaged is around 37,000, which includes 914 in Jammu division as well," he said.
Telecommunication links and the supply of water and electricity have been resorted in large parts fo the affected area, he claimed. "Telecom facilities in Uri, Tangdhar, Srinagar and Jammu have been set up to enable people to be connected to PoK. This facility is being provided free of charge. Over 1000 snow tents are being purchased so that they could be pitched in as and when required. Each tent can accomodate 30 persons at a time," he said.
Duggal vehemently denied that disaster management groups started work slowly and, hence, relief work could not be done at the kind of pace it should have been taken up. "This is not true. Our assistance efforts have been globally appreciated," he said.
Listing the work ahead, Duggal said that with the relief phase over, the next priority is to construct shelters and this was being taken up on a war footing. "We have to look at the economic rehabilitation , too, and take care of widows, orphans and senior citizens," he said.