Friday, February 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

$ 9.42 m aid for quake victims: EU

BRUSSELS, Feb 1 (Reuters) — The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), today announced a second tranche of $ 9.42 million in aid for the victims of India’s earthquake.

“We are fulfilling the promise I made at the weekend to increase the initial funding amount once the scale of needs became apparent,” the Commissioner for Development Mr Poul Nielson, said in a statement.

He said the EU could provide further aid in due course.

Officials of the EU said the new aid would be channelled towards rural areas hit hard by last week’s quake. They dismissed fears that the money was not reaching its intended beneficiaries.

“Aid is getting through. The pipeline has been a bit blocked because of the sheer amount of aid arriving. The commission is following this very closely along with member states,” Mr Nielson’s spokesman Michael Curtis told a news briefing.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee also acknowledged today the bottlenecks but said the aid was beginning to flow more easily now.


Canada’s gesture to quake victims
From Ajit Jain

TORONTO, Feb 1 — In an unusual gesture, Canada has decided to expedite cases of immigrant applicants from earthquake-affected eas wishing to enter the country.

The Canadian Government is sending a number of immigration officials to Gujarat to interview survivors who have outstanding immigration files, said Mr Rene Nercier, an immigration department spokesman.

“In Canada, the federal government is clearing the way for families affected by the earthquake to come here by expediting applications,” said a report in the National Post yesterday.

Under the existing immigration rules “we help people in a dire situation like the earthquake in India,” Mr Nercier said adding, “if their families here prove to immigration officers that they would go back (within six months), they would get visitor’s visa,” provided the immigration officers are convinced of this fact.

For those who have applied for landed immigration status, their files would be examined expeditiously, he said. “But it will take some time as they will have to go through normal security and medical checks.”

SAN JOSE (California): Indian Americans in California’s Silicon Valley may hail from various parts of India but are united as one to help the quake-affected people of Gujarat.

Over 25 Bay Area Indian-American groups have joined forces under the umbrella of United Community Appeal for India (UCA) to raise funds for victims of Friday’s earthquake. About a third of the 150,000 Indians living in the Bay Area are Gujarati, but “the calamity is so widespread that whether you are a Gujarati or not, Indians in general feel the pain,” said Rajesh Kotadia, president of the Gujarati Cultural Association of the Bay Area.

The UCA, made up of professional, charitable, religious and other groups, has already collected more than $ 2 million for the relief effort, and an advisory board will decide which relief organisation will disburse the funds, the release said.

“Collectively, we can mobilise the resources of an entire community,” said Sailesh Mehta, CEO of Providian, a Silicon Valley frim.

And some information technology (IT) majors, like Netscaler, have been very generous. The company has collected $ 14,000, a large part of which came from CEO B.V. Jagadeesh. Jagadeesh is also contributing $ 5 for every $ 1 that a NetScaler employee donates up to $ 10,000, a company spokesperson said. — IANS


Bush offers aid to PM on phone

WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (PTI) — The US President, Mr George W. Bush, has offered aid to India for quake victims during a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. This was stated today by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

He told newspersons that Mr Vajpayee had accepted the offer.

The USA had so far sanctioned $ 5 million, of which $ 2 million had been spent, Mr Fleischer said.

Mr Bush called up Mr Vajpayee on January 30 and told him during the five-minute conversation that “this is the least a friend can do for a friend in need”.

He conveyed condolences on behalf of the people of the USA over the death and devastation in one of the worst-ever natural calamities.Back

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