M A I N   N E W S

PM assures more funds to J&K
S.P. Sharma and Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 27
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today said that a Central team would visit the snowstorm-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow to assess the extent of loss and the relief and rehabilitation work would be further accelerated.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who was addressing mediapersons here after an aerial view of the devastated areas in Kashmir and Doda district of Jammu, said that the Centre would stand by the state government and provide all kinds of assistance that was required to normalise the situation.

He said that the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar highway, which had been lying closed for the past 10 days, would be reopened in the next three days.

He said that an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh from the Prime Ministerís Relief Fund would be provided to dependants of each killed. This was besides the Rs 50,000 that had already been given. He said that the Centre had already provided a grant of Rs 50 crore to the state government for rebuilding the infrastructure and more funds would be sent on the recommendation of the Central team.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by the Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, earlier presided over a meeting of the unified command of the Army, para-military forces, Central Intelligence Agencies, state police and other agencies to take stock of the relief and rescue operations. The Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed and Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, were also present in the meeting.

SRINAGAR: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who arrived here this morning on a day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir. He was briefed by the senior government functionaries over the extent of damage and relief measures taken by various state and Central government agencies. Later, he made an aerial survey of the affected areas. The Prime Minister was also informed that large areas under orchards and other crops also suffered enormous loss.

Briefing the Prime Minister, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mr Khursheed Ahmad Ganai said that the almond crop had been the worst affected. Out of more than 7000 km road length, about 1100 km had been damaged in the state.

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