Sikkim awaits quake funds

Gangtok, Dec. 26: The state government has received only 28 per cent of the Rs 1,000-crore central funds announced by the Prime Minister during his visit to Sikkim after the earthquake on September 18 last year.

The state government received the first installment of Rs 200 crore last year but Rs 80 crore of the second installment of Rs 200 crore. The third installment of Rs 600 crore would be granted in 2013-14.

"The second installment of the relief fund approved by the Centre was meant for the financial year of 2012-13. The state government has so far received only Rs 80 crore and the remaining amount is expected by March next year" said S.B.S. Bhaduria, the relief commissioner of the state disaster management.

Bhaduria said the construction of 7,972 houses, which were damaged during the earthquake, had already started and Rs 391 crore would be spent till the end of this financial year.

The government wants to complete around 50 per cent of the houses by March and the remaining the next financial year. But construction has got over for about 30 per cent of the houses after over a year since the tremors.

Manmohan Singh had announced the relief package during his visit to the state after the 6.9 earthquake hit Sikkim on September 18, 2011, killing 62 people and causing considerable damage to property.

According to sources in the state disaster management wing, the central package was to be released to Sikkim in three installments ' Rs 200 crore in the first two, Rs 600 crore in the third.

The Centre had granted priority and approval for phase-wise funds to two projects ' the reconstruction of the earthquake-resistant Tashiling secretariat in Gangtok and the construction of the 7,972 rural houses.

The secretariat work has just begun and Rs 100 crore would be used for it.

The rest of the central allocation would go towards building homes for people whose houses were damaged in the quake.

Bhaduria said the construction of the houses had already started.

He could not give a clear reason on why the full installment of the allocation was not sent to Sikkim.

"The state buildings, roads, schools and other infrastructure are being repaired and reconstructed. The drinking water supply system is also being repaired. The funds for these projects are expected to come at the earliest," Bhaduria said.

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