Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Jan. 6

THE Central Team that visited the tsunami-affected areas in Andhra Pradesh felt that the consideration of any assistance to the victims "should be beyond the existing guidelines of the Calamity Relief Fund."

The team members, headed by Mr A.K. Rastogi, Secretary of Border Management, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, told newspersons here on Thursday that the enormity of the disaster should be kept in mind in relaxing the norms and guidelines and provision of a special relief package to the victims. Stating that they were convinced of the need to provide large-scale assistance to the affected people, they said they were looking into the proposals submitted by the State Government for building 40,000 houses for fishermen and undertaking long-term measures for their rehabilitation.

The members of the team have expressed concern over the plight of the fishermen who lost everything in the calamity when they met the Chief Minister, Dr. Y.S. Rajesekhara Reddy, and the Chief Secretary, Mr Mohan Kanda, earlier.

Expressing satisfaction over the immediate relief provided to the victims by the State Government, they have informed the Chief Minister that the affected fishermen were still in trauma and afraid of going into the sea for fishing. They suggested sending medical teams and members of non-government organisations (NGOs) for three to four months for treatment and counselling the fishermen.

The team toured Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna and West Godavari districts in the State in three groups during the past two days. They expressed the view that provision of permanent houses for fishermen was necessary, but wanted the houses to be constructed at least 500 metres away from the seacoast.

The members stressed that the entire cost of the catamarans lost by fishermen should be reimbursed. The team was expected to submit its recommendations in a couple of days.

The Chief Minister informed the team members that house sites were already available for building 30,000 houses, while the sites have to be acquired for the remaining 10,000 houses proposed to be built. He also thanked the Centre for responding to the situation promptly.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 7, 2005)
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