PM visit a healing touch for cloudburst victims

For Frida, a 55-year-old woman here, the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the perfect healing touch that she needed post the devastating cloudburst.

Leh: For Frida, a 55-year-old woman here,
the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the perfect
healing touch that she needed post the devastating cloudburst.

"I am very happy that the Prime Minister has come to
enquire about our well-being. I was worried about the upcoming
winter but his promise that houses will be provided by then
has reassured me," she said.

The Prime Minister, who was here for about three hours
to take stock of the relief and rehabilitation programme post
the disaster on the intervening night of August 5 and 6,
visited the worst affected area, Choglamsar village, and a
relief camp.

Asked if the Prime Minister should have come earlier,
Dorjay, a resident of Choglamsar said, "He is a very big man
and looks after the entire country. Had he come earlier, it
would have been good but I am glad that he has come. This
shows his concern."

Though Manmohan Singh, surrounded by his security
officials, might not have gone out of the way to reach out to
the villagers even his presence meant a lot to the victims.

People were seen handing over appeals to him which
mostly dealt with need for new houses and compensation.

Padma Tsomo, a middle-aged woman broke down as the Prime
Minister walked past her. He stopped and enquired about her

"I told the Prime Minister that we have been given
everything from food to dress but what we needed was a house
to stay in before the winter season starts otherwise we would
die. He assured me that houses will be built by then," she

His address to the victims in which he announced relief
packages and empathised with the villagers was twice responded
with a round of claps.

The residents of the relief camp also had their way with
the Special Protection Group guarding the Prime Minister.

On Monday, when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited the
same camp, a resident had complained about how they were made
to sit for long period behind the erected wooden barricades.
Rahul had lost his cool and had taken to task the security
officials for putting up such barricades.

So when Prime Minister visited today, the barricades
were gone and were replaced with ropes. Even blankets were
laid on the ground for the residents to sit.

The victims also welcomed the Rs 125 crore relief
package announced by the Prime Minister but felt more is

"In Delhi and all, what one gets for Rs 5 is available
here for Rs 20. Rs 125 crore I think is an initial package and
the government will give more," said Tsering Tashi who lost
his house following the flash floods.

While for some, it was the visit of Prime Minister that
impressed them, for others it was the long motorcade.

A young boy was heard enquiring with a police official
what the long antennas protruding out of the black car were,
referring to the jammers placed on the Prime Minister`s SUV.

The Prime Minister, however, did not visit any army
locations. The army had played a major role in rescuing
hundreds of lives when the cloudburst hit this area.


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