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Manmohan assures pragmatic solutions for tsunami-hit

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A WORD OF COMFORT: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with tsunami survivors at a makeshift shelter in Port Blair on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
A WORD OF COMFORT: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with tsunami survivors at a makeshift shelter in Port Blair on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

Aarti Dhar

PM in Andamans, says problems will be resolved with speed and commitment

PORT BLAIR: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured the people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that the Centre's efforts would be to find effective, corrective and pragmatic solutions to their problems so that those affected by the tsunami could lead a life of dignity and self-respect.

On a two-day visit to "familiarise" himself with the progress made in the rehabilitation of the affected people, Dr. Singh told the inhabitants that though these islands were far from the mainland they were close to his heart. "I assure you that your problems would be resolved with speed and deep commitment," he said.

Talking to reporters after visiting a temporary shelter site at Brichgunj, he said a lot of rehabilitation work had been done but problems still remained and the Government was alive to them. "We now have to take care of livelihood issues," he said.

Tempo of rehabilitation

Speaking after laying the foundation stone of a wharf (jetty) and a working women's hostel, he said that when he came here last year soon after the tsunami, there was an atmosphere of despondency and fear about the future.

"Now we need to see how the tempo of rehabilitation can be built up. We need to see what has been accomplished and what can still be accomplished," he said. "Anguish and suffering should not dull our ambitions," he said.

Describing the tsunami as a tragedy of immense proportions, he said it was compounded by the distances involved and a complete breakdown of economic activities in some places. Our first priority was the immediate rescue and relief of the affected people and providing succour to those in distress. "This we did and everyone rose to the task - the armed forces, the administration, the civil society and even individuals," he said. The next priority, he said, was to find long-term solutions for shelter and livelihood.

"The Centre has approved a long term tsunami rehabilitation programme costing about Rs. 2,600 crore,'' he added.

Dr. Singh said issues of lack of coordination among various departments and agencies would be brought to the notice of the Union Home Minister.

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