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Many Baramulla villages back to normal, some still waiting for help

80% of houses rebuilt, but tough terrain makes it hard for locals to pursue relief. Full compensation for damaged houses continues to elude at least 20% of the affected. Peerzada Ashiq reports.
Hindustan Times | By Peerzada Ashiq, Srinagar
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2013 01:01 AM IST

The story of reconstruction and rehabilitation in Kashmir’s earthquake-hit region, like other stories in the region, is a mixed happy-sad one. Many of the 400 villages of the affected Baramulla and Kupwara districts are back to the rhythm of life but villagers in some areas still await rehabilitation.

About 80% of the houses that collapsed in the October 8, 2005 earthquake, that measured 7.4 on the Richter near the Line of Control, have been rebuilt, according to officials. However, the onus of reconstruction of houses was on those affected; they received R1 lakh in two installments for it.

Full compensation for damaged houses continues to elude at least 20% of the affected. Several of the injured complain of not getting complete compensation. This is for a number of reasons: residents’ unfamiliarity with procedures, inability to go beyond the first plinth level, tardiness of local administration, and inaccessibility owing to topography.

The distance from administrative centres and topography of several upper reaches played a role in delaying compensation and reconstruction work. Families stopped pursuing compensation cases as they had to cross tough terrain to reach district headquarters.

Only 31 out of 306 cases in Karnah tehsil were fully compensated while the remaining 275 families were given the initial installment of R40,000 but did not raise the plinths of their houses to be eligible for the balance R60,000, government officials said.

The rescue effort, victims said, was appreciable. The government rushed in 11,000 tents, 80,000 blankets, 21 medical response teams, 30 lakh chlorine tablets, nine metric tonnes of bleaching powder to prevent epidemics, besides food items.

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