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Declare a national disaster: Advani to govt
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | December 30, 2004 11:03 IST
Lal Kishenchand Advani, president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, has demanded that the government of India should declare the tsunami tragedy as a national calamity so that Members of Parliament could use money slotted for development work for relief purposes in their respective constituencies.
Addressing a news conference after a three-day tour of the affected areas, Advani said he had not heard of the word tsunami before the incident took place.
He refused to pinpoint deficiencies in relief and rehabilitation work that is being carried out by government agencies in wave-affected areas.
"This is not the time to point fingers but to work unitedly," he said.
Asked if the former National Democratic Front alliance government had at any point of time thought of installing special sensors to warn about tsunamis, Advani said that he could not recall if the demand for installing such sensors had been put forward before the government.
"It is too technical a question for me to answer," he said.
Talking about the recommendations of the National Committee on Disaster Management set up by the Vajpayee government after the Bhuj earthquake, Advani demanded that the government of India immediately set up a Specialised Disaster Response organisation and disaster response units to agument/supplement the resources of the states and the nodal ministry at the Centre by providing specialised resources.
Narrating his experiences, Advani said that the victims were worried about their livelihood and the loans they had taken to buy boats and nets.
"The fishermen are worried about their source of income. Some of them have taken bank loans and are in no position to pay them back. I request the government of India to waive these loans and also provide them fresh loans to buy boats and nets so that they can resume their work," he added.
He suggested that insurance agencies should start comprehensive schemes for fishermen since their very livelihood is perennially subject to the vagaries nature.
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