Nepal relief collection on despite Bengal shutdown

Kolkata : A truck carrying around 18 tonnes of relief material collected from donors in Kolkata for Nepal quake-victims will be dispatched from here on Thursday, the Nepal consulate said.

The relief material will be dispatched amid a state-wide dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the opposition parties and a nation-wide transport strike by trade unions.

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According to deputy consul general Surendra Thapa, the strike has not affected the collection and dispatch of relief materials such as blankets, tents, dry foods, drinking water, water purifiers, sanitation kits, mattresses, tarpaulins, medicine and first-aid items.

“We are continuing with the collection, storage and transport operations despite the strike. Two 20-feet containers (totally carrying over 30 tonnes of relief material) were dispatched in the last two days. A 40-feet container with a capacity of around 17 to 18 tonnes (or 18,000 kg) will be dispatched today (Thursday),” Thapa told IANS.

Normal life in West Bengal was crippled by the strike on Thursday.

However, the Nepal Earthquake Relief Collection Centre in south Kolkata, set up by the consulate on Monday in response to the tragedy in the Himalayan nation, has been active despite the shutdown.

“The 40-feet container will be dispatched tonight on a truck, after 8 p.m., when things calm down. We are now filling up another 20-feet container. Since our vehicles are displaying the ‘Nepal Earthquake Relief Collection Centre’ banner, we are not being stopped anywhere,” Satish Thapa, an official at the centre, told IANS.

He said tarpaulin sheets and mattresses were in high demand since the affected were homeless and needed temporary shelters.

The consulate has also made a special arrangement with Air India (eastern region) to transport relief cargo by air from Kolkata to Kathmandu.

In addition, it has also opened a bank account in Kolkata linked with the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund of Nepal to facilitate receipt of cash deposits from donors.

“We have collected around Rs.3 to 5 lakh, mainly from the business sector and chambers of commerce, in just a day,” the deputy consul general said.

Over 5,000 people were killed in the April 25 earthquake in Nepal which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.