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Congress delegates partymen for relief efforts

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 27. The Congress today decided to activate the party apparatus for relief and rehabilitation efforts after yesterday's natural disaster.

Before leaving for a visit to the affected areas, the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi today chaired a meeting here at which a three-pronged scheme to provide immediate, short and long-term relief to the people affected by the natural calamity was drawn.

Congress MPs, MLAs, MLCs, and others holding official posts have been directed to donate a month's salary to the relief fund for use in earthquake affected areas.

Party units have been advised to help the affected States financially and to provide relief material. A control room has been set up in each of the States and districts affected by the disaster while the central control room at the AICC would function round the clock, both to monitor and relay messages. Party executive committees in each of the affected States have been converted into relief committees.

AICC general secretaries/secretaries in charge of States have been asked to coordinate relief work while frontal organisations have been asked to take active part in relief work.

In addition, the party has asked the Karnataka Congress unit to coordinate relief efforts in Andaman and Nicobar; the Andhra Pradesh unit will help relief efforts in Tamil Nadu while the Maharashtra unit will help efforts in Pondicherry.

Coordinate relief,

says CPI(M)

The Communist Party of India too has asked its units to coordinate with social and political organisations to render assistance to the affected people.

The party said that at this moment of tragedy, massive relief and rescue measures must be taken up on a war-footing. While the Centre has moved in quickly, there should be coordinated efforts to provide relief to the affected.

"It is also necessary that the Central Government looks at the issue with a long-term perspective of establishing and strengthening our scientific and technological institutions to monitor earthquakes and seismic changes,'' the party central secretariat said in a release.

The Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader, K. Yerrannaidu, urged the Government to declare the tragedy as a "national calamity'', and direct the Andhra Pradesh Government to increase the ex-gratia relief. He pointed out that a number of fishermen were missing from his Srikakulam constituency.

The Lok Janshakti Party president and Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, announced that his party MPs would contribute a month's salary to the relief fund.

Mr. Paswan said he would lead a three-member team to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry tomorrow. Mr. Paswan, who is Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, also appealed to drug companies to provide medicines for the affected.

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