Saturday, August 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Long way to normalcy
From Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Aug 4 — After the initial panic, relief and rehabilitation measures are being taken but despite the best efforts of the government, it will take months before some kind of normalcy is established in the flood-ravaged areas of the state.

With the vital infrastructure like roads and power supply completely destroyed, maintaining the supply of basic necessities over the next few months will be a major task before the government.

As many as 17 road bridges and 51 foot bridges were washed away and reaching to affected people was a problem. About 50 kms stretch of the national highway between Jhakri and Khab has either been completely wiped out or suffered extensive damage. While much damage has been caused to power projects in the area, the uprooting of over 700 electrical poles has paralysed the power transmission and distribution network. Most areas of Kinnaur have been plunged in darkness.

The Centre has placed four helicopters at the state government’s disposal. Along with the state helicopters, they have started making sorties to the affected areas with essential supplies.

The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, after holding a meeting of senior officials said additional landing points for helicopters and suitable zones would be identified for dropping supplies in the interior areas like the Rupa valley and Moorang tehsil.

Meanwhile, helicopters today evacuated about 100 persons, including 17 foreign tourists, stranded at various places in Kinnaur. The death toll was officially put at 118, including 28 missing persons.

The helicopters made over a dozen sorties to Reckong Peo, Sangla and Pooh and airlifted about 300 quintals of various commodities. He said keeping in view the scarcity of kerosene and diesel, the Indian Air Force authorities had given special permission for the carriage of these commodities by helicopters.

Supplies were being sent to Bhaba valley from Wangtu through porters. By restoring pedestrian traffic, the power house of the project had also become accessible. Pedestrian traffic between Wangtu and Tapri and between Tapri and Kalpa had been restored. Work has resumed to restore pedestrian path along the damaged Pooh and Spillow National Highway.

The state government will give Rs 25,000 as immediate relief to those whose houses have been washed away, besides giving them temporary shelter. In order to rehabilitate these families, two biswas of land will be allotted for the construction sites.

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