NC, Congress bicker over quake relief package


Jammu : Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling coalition partners National Conference (NC) and Congress sparred over relief to earthquake victims in Doda and Kishtwar districts of the Chenab valley, with leaders of both parties making charges and counter charges against each other.

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A statement of the NC Monday described as “unfortunate and misleading the statements of a senior Congress leader with regard to cash assistance purportedly released by the centre for the earthquake victims of the Chenab Valley”, saying it was money allocated to Jammu and Kashmir on account of State Disaster Relief Fund, not a special relief package.

The joint statement by NC leaders including Sheikh Mustafa Kamal (younger brother of party chief Farooq Abdullah), cited repeated statements of Congress’ G.M. Saroori, the legislator from Inderwal constituency of Kishtwar, who claimed that Rs.334 crore had been sanctioned by the central government, and described “such irresponsible utterances as playing with the sentiments of the sufferers”.

“This is not a special relief package for the earthquake sufferers of Doda -Kishtwar and Ramban,” the NC leaders said in the statement.

However, sticking to his stand, Saroori told IANS over telephone from Kishtwar: “It was after (union minister) Ghulam Nabi Azad’s meeting with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 15 that an amount of Rs.334 crore was released for assistance and cash relief to earthquake victims in Doda and Kishtwar districts.”

He said that the central government also dispatched 10,000 tents for the affected families who are at present sleeping in open, but only 2600 tents have reached Doda while Kishtwar has only got 750.

“We (Congress leaders) are going to every nook and corner of the earthquake struck areas. Whereas the NC leaders led by Mustafa Kamal are just meeting people on the roadside,” Saroori alleged.

Expressing regret over the NC’s statement, Saroori said: “This is against the coalition dharma and NC should be honest in disbursing relief to earthquake victims.”

According to official estimates, about 55,000 families have been affected by the earthquake that struck mountainous Doda and Kishtwar districts May 1. The government has so far estimated the damage to buildings at 50,000 including residential, government, religious, educational and others, of which 1,500 are totally damaged, 11,000 severely and remaining partially.

As many as 28 aftershocks have created panic among over 500,000 people living in the two districts.