33 dead as dust storm lashes Rajasthan
At least 33 people were killed and 205 injured after a high-speed dust storm lashed parts of eastern Rajasthan on Wednesday. The state government on Thursday announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for the deceased and those injured will get between Rs 60,000 and Rs 2 lakh besides recompense for the loss of property and cattle.
The storm with a wind speed of up to 80km per hour wreaked havoc in Bharatpur, Alwar and Dholpur districts leaving a trail of destruction, uprooting hundreds of trees and electricity poles. Most deaths took place in house collapses due to the storm, officials said.
The state government rushed the State Disaster Relief Force to the affected districts and issued an alert.
Addressing the media, state disaster management minister Gulab Chand Kataria said 17 have died in Bharatpur, five in Dholpur and nine in Alwar. Two residents from Dholpur died in Agra while two from UP died in Dholpur.
He said the kin of each of the deceased will get Rs4 lakh. Those with above 60% injury will get Rs2 lakh each and those with below 60% will get Rs 75,000. Those who were admitted to the hospital for a week will get Rs7000 and those admitted for more than a week would get Rs12,000.
“For the first time, we have given Rs 3,800 per family as immediate relief to those whose homes have been destroyed so that they can use it to buy food and clothes,” Kataria said.
Bharatpur suffered the maximum damage in terms of loss of lives and infrastructure. The strong winds and rain damaged electricity poles, many of which were uprooted, disrupting power supply.
The storm also damaged nests of birds at the Keoladeo National Park. Hundreds of birds were dead in the aftermath of the storm.
In Alwar, more than 100 trees were uprooted, many of which fell on stationary vehicles and snapped power cables. Private schools in Alwar city remained closed.
“Immediate relief has been provided to those affected as the government has added dust storm in the list of calamities under the State Disaster Relief Fund. We immediately transferred Rs 2.5 crore to the local administrations. Rs 1 crore was given to Bharatpur, Rs65 lakh to Alwar and Rs85 lakh to Dholpur,” said Kataria.
He said 80 houses were destroyed in Bharatpur while the survey was on in Alwar and Dholpur. For completely damaged houses, compensation of Rs 95,000 per house will be given. For partly damaged pucca houses, Rs 5000 will be given and for partly damaged kuchha houses, Rs3000 will be given.
Kataria said compensation would also be given for loss of cattle —Rs30,000 per animal for cattle, Rs 3000 per animal for small animals.
To provide quick relief to the affected areas, the government had added dust storms and fires to the list of 12 calamities under the SDRF after a dust storm on April 11 in which 19 persons were killed in Bharatpur and Dholpur districts.
He said ministers had been sent to monitor relief work in the affected districts. Minister Arun Chaturvedi was assigned to Dholpur, Kalicharan Saraf to Bharatpur and Hem Singh Bhadana to Alwar.
On Thursday morning, chief minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted that she had directed ministers to monitor relief work in the affected districts and asked officials to restore utilities. “An unfortunate incident, we have been working closely with local authorities to mitigate the situation… The Govt. stands firmly with its people in this time,” she tweeted.
Former Rajasthan chief minister and All India Congress Committee general secretary Ashok Gehlot cancelled his birthday celebrations, tweeting: “Very sad to know about 22 people have died and over 100 injured due to dust storms and strong winds in #Rajasthan.. We are extremely grieved at the loss of lives in state and stand with the victims in this hour of tragedy.”