Pradeep Malli in Paiya (Gujarat)
The US will pump in $ 8 million for the rehabilitation of the quake-affected people of Gujarat, taking its total contribution to $21 million, ambassador-designate Robert Blackwill said.
Blackwill said the money would be channeled through the US Agency for International Development. He was inaugurating a block-making factory here, about 20 km from Bhuj, built with USAID assistance.
The USAID has been assisting the Catholic Relief Service that has adopted Paiya for reconstruction. The US government has already committed $ 13 million for the rehabilitation work in the areas devastated by the January 26 quake that killed nearly 25,000 people and rendered millions homeless.
Blackwill, who took up the ambassadorial assignment a month ago, and his wife Linda are on a tour of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. They have preferred to travel by train to get a closer look at the Indian life.
Blackwill is being called ambassador-designate as he is yet to present his credentials to President K R Narayanan as the latter is indisposed.
However, the Indian government has allowed him to carry out his diplomatic duties.
The local people presented the Blackwills with a sword. After inaugurating the factory, the couple made a block each and said they would carry them to Delhi as a memento from the village.
Blackwill, casually attired in a pink T-shirt, arrived in Bhuj around noon in a state government aircraft and proceeded to Paiya in a car. He also participated in the "bhoomipujan" to mark the beginning of the reconstruction of the village of about 1,000 people.
He said the US would extend $ 20,000 for the restoration of the Kutch Museum at Bhuj, which was badly damaged in the quake. The museum archives the glorious history of Kutch, its art and culture.
Later, Blackwill left for Ahmedabad to interact with the students and the faculty of the Indian Institute of Management, the country's premier business school. He taught at Harvard University before taking up the ambassadorial assignment.
Indo-Asian News Service
Gujarat earthquake: The Complete Coverage
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