6th September : We arrived here safely in the morning and were put up at the #1 Vikas Command under the charge of CO, Col Tikka Yuvraj Singh Bedi, who took care of us extremely well with his team of officers looking after us, with a Major incharge of taking care of all the logistic support that we may require till our stay here, and a doctor who monitored our blood pressure and took care of medication.
Though we were advised “no activity” for today, the DC Leh, Mr. T. Angchuk, decided to meet us today itself at 11am in his office along with his chief relief coordinator. Rtn. Ghulam Mustaffa of Rotary Club Leh also joined us there later.
For a population of about 1.10 lakh about 10,000 people have been affected, with 300 casualties. The devastation can be seen all around as massive layer of mud flattened various portions in the cities and in the villages after the cloud burst.
DISTRIBUTION OF MATERIAL
We shall be receiving the material in the morning tomorrow at 6:30am when the IL aircraft arrives from Chandigarh. We have spoken with Air Cdr Anil Tewari, who has allowed our entry, and we have coordinated with Col Bedi also, who is providing us with trucks as well as jawans, to unload the material, and bring it to the army base. Though the DC wanted us to unload the material in their warehouse from where this material would be further distributed, we have decided to bring it to army base, and keep it on the trucks since loading/unloading would require more manpower and would become time-consuming. The team of army jawans would be at our disposal to take the material to whatever destination we decide in mutual consultation with the DC.
There are certain areas which have been identified by the DC and would be providing us the exact locations so that the material can be transported there. After talking to the locals we have also looked at other possibilities including a tibetan settlement which has been affected and is not receiving any official help except from the locals. We are getting in touch with them tomorrow and meeting the tibetan head there to assess their requirement.
We shall fill you in with other details as we progress further. This would of course be the major area of activities since we want to ensure their distribution to the beneficiaries.
The DC informed that village Sabu and several other affected villages have already been taken up by different organisations, viz. Village Sabu has been supposedly being taken care of CII though the DC was not clear as to what kind of help would be provided there. We shall be visiting ourselves this village tomorrow to see the exact requirement and go ahead with our plan. There is another big village, Fyang, affected badly and we shall also visit it tomorrow to see where we can help, and with the relief material available with us we shall be able to send it across to them.
We shared the idea of building prefab barrack type structure for housing, the DC however has pointed out that there is scattered requirement from different villages, for single independent units. He has suggested supply of at least 15 structures of 12ft x 14ft size, for which the drawing would be sent tomorrow, for which quotes can be obtained. They have identified 15 such families for the time being who have been provided cash relief of Rs.2 to 3 lakh by the government, and also being supplied with steel, cement etc, with which they would be required to create a plinth area of 13ft x 15ft size on which the prefab structure would be installed. The cost for us would be of preparation of structure, transporting here and then getting it erected.
There are still some villages in upper reaches at abolut 15000-18000ft high, which have been raged and require immediately quilts and tents. Since the road is blocked at the moment, the DC with the help of local SDM and other officers would be informing these affected villagers to come down upto the road point, where army trucks would hand over to these identified people, the necessary supplies, which we shall be supervising too.
ADOPTION OF CHILDREN
As per the DC, there are no more than 30 orphan children, (and not 150 as reported in the media). Since education in all schools here is free upto 12th, getting them into the school and taking care of their studies and hostel accommodation is not a problem, and already most of the schools have taken care of them. However, there are certain specific cases which we have thought of extending our helping hand.
There are two girls studying in Jammu who have been rendered orphan, losing both their parents. One of the girl has a burn marks on her head, and the parents were trying to put together the money to get her plastic surgery done. We shall be getting more details from the DC tomorrow, and one, we can see what requirement the girl in Jammu requires who would require some financial support to meet her living expenses. She is in 12th. Her sister who requires plastic surgery can be treated in Chandigarh, for which we have requested the DC to get us her medical report.
There is another case of three little children of a poor family who lost their mother while saving them, and the father is too poor to help. We shall get more details tomorrow on that.
There are two schools in another village Skurbuchan which have been completely washed away. We shall see what can be done there to reconstruct the facility or supply them with requisite material.
The communication has been badly affected here and only BSNL mobiles are working and a few Airtel one. The landlines have been completely disrupted with BSNL’s telephone exchange got buried under the debries. We have been able to find one cyber cafe in the market here which is operational and hence this email.