Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on Thursday assistance of Rs.1,000 crore to Sikkim to meet the requirements of relief and rehabilitation in the wake of the earthquake that ravaged the Himalayan State on September 18 claiming 60 lives (official estimates provided earlier have since been revised) and causing injuries to hundreds and leaving behind a devastating trail of destruction.

Dr. Singh, who made an aerial recce of north Sikkim, the worst-hit region, during a brief visit to the State, assured the Sikkim government of “every possible assistance to manage effectively the task of reconstruction, rehabilitation and re-development” even as he expressed the confidence that the people of Sikkim would be able to meet “the challenges of this great tragedy”.

The Prime Minister also advised the Sikkim government to learn from its experience by using proper building technology and building by-laws so as to be better prepared in the event of recurrences of earthquakes. An experts team on earthquake-resistant technology is to be sent by the Centre to assist the State in rebuilding its infrastructure, according to a press release issued by the Chief Minister's Office in Gangtok and made available to The Hindu here.

Dr. Singh also urged Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling to make Sikkim a model State in earthquake mitigation to show the way the way to other earthquake-prone States in the country.

Mr. Chamling, who had earlier estimated that the damages caused by the calamity were worth about Rs.1 lakh crore, submitted to the Prime Minister a memorandum of relief under national calamity.

The Prime Minister, while speaking to journalists in Gangtok, laid particular emphasis on the reconstruction of the sacred monasteries and national monuments that had suffered extensive damages as well as on rebuilding of the schools, houses, and roads.

Dr. Singh visited the injured at the STNM Hospital in the State's capital and conveyed his best wishes to them for an early recovery.

He also had a meeting with Mr. Chamling, ministers of the State Cabinet, representatives of the Army and the National Disaster Response Force. A Power Point presentation was made by the ministers on the destruction and damage caused by the earthquake.

“The government and the people of India are fully behind the people and the government of Sikkim”, he said, adding that all possible help would be extended in the rebuilding of lives of those affected by the disaster.

“I feel highly impressed by the manner in which all segments of our government, the Air Force, the Border Roads Organisation and members of the State government have joined hands to provide rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures,” he said.