Apr 27

ERRA Monitoring and Evaluation 2007 Ceremony

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Chairman ERRA Altaf Muhammad Saleem addressing at the launching ceremony of the ERRA Monitoring and Evaluation 2007 on April 25, 2008

Apr 27

Not payment to quake affectees is injustice: Turabi

ISLAMABAD: Former Amir Jamaat-e-Islami AJK and EX. Member AJK Assembly Abdur Rashid Turabi has said stopping payment to earthquake stricken people of Bagh and Azad Jummu and Kashmir is injustice as the rules and regulations regarding the payment has been issued when majority of the affectees has built their houses.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, he has said that problems of the affectees should be immediately resolved, otherwise, they would organize a long March on May 11. In the letter Abur Rashid Turabi says, “The Fault is on the part of ERRA and other concerned officials as they have been issuing different code of conduct on different occasions.” He writes that the affectees are more perplexed when authorities apply double standard in this regard.

A strong protest was already staged under the auspices of Awami Action Forum Bagh and the authorities were urged to resolve the issue but no sincere effort had been made, he added. He hoped that the new government under dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister will take stock of the situation immediately. It is pertinent to mention that ERRA has stopped payment to the affectees on pretext that the residents have not used blocks of certain size.

Apr 26

PM asks ERRA to complete work within given timeframe

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Youssuf Raza Gillani has directed Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to expedite reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in the earthquake affected areas and complete the work within the given timeframe.

He was chairing a special meeting here on Saturday that reviewed the performance of ERRA regarding reconstruction and rehabilitation. The Prime Minister also asked ERRA to involve elected representatives while giving final shape to the proposals regarding reconstruction activities.

He stressed the need for ensuring transparency accountability and international validity of the reconstruction process in the affected areas. The Prime Minister decided to hold ERRA Council meeting every month instead of three month with a view to speed up the whole reconstruction process and ease out the affected people. He approved seven hundred million rupees for land acquisition in new Balakot city. He also directed the AJK and NWFP governments to allocate money for maintenance of the new facilities in their respective areas to benefit the people in long run.

He asked ERRA to bring complete and solid suggestions regarding construction of new Balakot city in the next meeting of the council. Earlier, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of ERRA gave detail briefing regarding reconstruction activities in the Earthquake affected areas.

The Deputy Chairman informed the Prime Minister that reconstruction activities would be completed by April next year. He said ERRA was working with the concerned governments in twelve sectors of reconstruction. He said town planning for Muazaffarabad, Bagh, Rawalakot and new Balakot cities had been finalized.He said so far over two billion rupees had been disbursed to the people to reconstruct their homes.

He informed the meeting that 3,56,451 houses had been completed while 1,63,747 would be completed shortly. Similarly he said 5,343 educational institutions, 307 health facilities and 4080 water supplies and sanitations schemes would be completed by the end of current financial year. The Deputy Chairman said that according to initial estimates reconstruction required four point three billion dollars but due to price escalation one point four billion dollars would more be needed. End-SANA-IM

Apr 26

Turabi urges PM not to stop payment to quake affectees

Former Amir Jamaat-e-Islami AJK and EX. Member AJK Assembly Abdur Rashid Turabi has said stopping payment to earthquake stricken people of Bagh and Azad Jummu and Kashmir is injustice as the rules and regulations regarding the payment has been issued when majority of the affectees has built their houses.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, he has said that problems of the affectees should be immediately resolved, otherwise, they would organize a long March on May 11. In the letter Abur Rashid Turabi says, “The Fault is on the part of ERRA and other concerned officials as they have been issuing different code of conduct on different occasions.” He writes that the affectees are more perplexed when authorities apply double standard in this regard.

A strong protest was already staged under the auspices of Awami Action Forum Bagh and the authorities were urged to resolve the issue but no sincere effort had been made, he added. He hoped that the new government under dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister will take stock of the situation immediately.

Apr 21

New govt serious about reconstruction of quake-hit areas: Saleem

ISLAMABAD: Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Chairman Altaf Saleem has said the new government is actively pursuing the reconstruction of quake-hit areas in NWFP and Azad Kashmir. Addressing a conference here on Saturday, he assured the donors that the development projects started in the affected areas will be implemented and completed within the prescribed time frame.

Giving a detailed account of the achievements made so far in the quake affected areas; Deputy Chairman Nadeem Ahmad said that more than Rs.57.50 had been disbursed among the affectees for their rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses. He said the housing programme will be completed by June this year. He said the authority had also distributed about five billion rupees to the vulnerable people under the livelihood cash grant programme.

Nadeem Ahmad said significant progress had also been made in the health, education, sanitation, water supply and road infrastructure projects. He said a programme had been envisaged to construct roads at a cost of twenty nine million rupees. Referring to the concerns shown by some organizations, he said the security situation in the affected areas was improving after the new government took charge.

Donors — various organizations — appreciated the reconstruction activities and said they will facilitate the new government and ERRA for the successful completion of the reconstruction phase.

Apr 11

Quake Kills Thousands in South Asia

Azhar Masood & Huma Aamir Malik, Arab News

ISLAMABAD, 9 October 2005 - A massive earthquake struck South Asia triggering landslides, toppling an apartment building and flattening villages of mud-brick homes near the border between Pakistan and India yesterday, killing several thousand people in a wide swath of devastation. Pakistan’s dead included 400 schoolchildren crushed by rubble when their schools collapsed, and 200 soldiers on duty in Pakistani Kashmir. For hours, aftershocks from the 7.6-magnitude quake rippled across the region as rescue teams struggled to clear piles of debris in a desperate search for survivors. Hospitals evacuated quake victims, some hooked up to intravenous drips, onto their lawns, fearing tremors could cause more damage. As night fell, rain and hail disrupted the recovery effort.

Pakistan absorbed most of the destruction. In the northern town of Mansehra, a shopowner named Haji Fazal Ilahi stood vigil over the body of his 14-year-old daughter, which lay under a sheet on a hospital mattress. He said his wife, a daughter and a brother also perished in the debris of their home.

“I could see rocks and homes tumbling down the mountains,” said Ilahi, who was driving to his village of Garlat when the quake struck. “When I reached my village, there was nothing left of my home.”

In a show of solidarity, India offered assistance and condolences to its longtime rival, Pakistan. The neighbors, who are engaged in a peace process, have fought three wars since independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over the divided region of Kashmir that was devastated in the quake.

“While parts of India have also suffered from this unexpected natural disaster, we are prepared to extend any assistance with rescue and relief which you may deem appropriate,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a message to Pakistan’s President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. A senior Pakistani Army official said 200 soldiers died in Pakistani Kashmir. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. About 1,000 civilians died in the region, said Sardar Mohammed Anwar, the top government official in the area.

“This is my conservative guess, and the death toll could be much higher,” Anwar told Pakistan’s Aaj television station. He said most homes in Muzaffarabad, the area’s capital, were damaged, and schools and hospitals collapsed.

At least 1,600 people died in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, said Akram Durrani, the province’s top elected official. Ataullah Khan Wazir, police chief in the northwestern district of Mansehra, said authorities there pulled the bodies of 250 students from a girls’ school that collapsed. “This tragic incident happened in Ghari Habibibullah,” a district village, he said. About 500 students were injured. Dozens of children were feared killed in other schools.

In the capitals of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, buildings shook and walls swayed for about a minute, and panicked people ran from their homes and offices. Communications throughout the region were cut.”It is a national tragedy,” said Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan’s chief army spokesman. “This is the worst earthquake in recent times.” He put the casualty figure in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir at several thousand dead.

The United Nations said it was working with Pakistan, Afghanistan and India on an emergency response to the quake. The US Geological Survey said on its website that the quake hit at 8:50 a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 7.6. It was centered about 95 kilometers northeast of Islamabad in the forested mountains of Pakistani Kashmir.

Damage was extensive in Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan. Officials in the Indian-controlled portion reported at least 250 people killed, including 20 soldiers who perished in a landslide. At least 800 people were injured and about 2,700 homes were destroyed or damaged across Jammu-Kashmir, said senior state official B.B. Vyas.

Army soldiers and local volunteers rescued people from under the debris of collapsed houses. Telephone lines were down. Bridges had developed cracks, but traffic was passing over them. Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz ordered the Pakistani military to extend “all-out help” to quake-hit areas and appealed to the nation to stay calm. Helicopters and C-130 transport planes took troops and supplies to damaged areas, but landslides were hindering rescue efforts.

The quake brought down a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad, and at least 10 people died. The dead included an Egyptian diplomat, hospital doctors said. The Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo said two Japanese were among the dead. At least 126 survivors were being treated in hospitals. A man named Rehmatullah who lived nearby said he saw dust from the buckled building from his bathroom window. “I rushed down, and for some time you could not see anything because of the dust. Then we began to look for people in the rubble,” he said. “We pulled out one man by cutting off his legs.”

“It was like hell,” said Nauman Ali, who lived in a nearby top-floor apartment. “I was tossed up in my bed and the ceiling fan struck against the roof.” Aided by two large cranes, hundreds of police and soldiers helped remove chunks of concrete, one of which was splattered with blood. One rescue worker said he initially heard faint cries from people trapped in the rubble. In Abbotabad, north of Islamabad, dozens of injured quake victims and other patients lay on the lawn of the city hospital as staff with loudspeakers appealed to the public for food and other relief supplies.

One of the injured was an 8-year-old boy, Qadeer, whose father, a farmer named Jehangir, said the only buildings left standing in their village were a mosque and a school. Qadeer lay unconscious, his right leg heavily bandaged. Authorities brought dozens of bodies to a damaged sports stadium in Muzaffarabad, and laid them on the ground under sheets.

In eastern Afghanistan, an 11-year-old girl was crushed to death when a wall in her home collapsed, said police official Gafar Khan. US military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara said the quake was felt at Bagram, the main American base in Afghanistan, but he had no reports of damage at bases around the country. The quake also jolted parts of Bangladesh, but no casualties or damage were reported there.

This is an old story published on Arab News; for the readers i found it very touchy and true commentary.

Apr 07

Earthquakes Hit Remote Aleutian Islands

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: Several earthquakes have jolted various sections of Alaska’s remote Aleutian Islands. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center says three light quakes struck early Sunday. Officials say the quakes ranged in magnitudes between 4.2 and 4.7.

The center says a moderate earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 occurred late Saturday night in the Rat Islands region of the Aleutians. There are no immediate reports that any of the quakes were felt or caused any damage.

Source : The Associated Press

Apr 06

France gives Rs. 382 Million for quake-hit areas of NWFP and Azad Kashmir: FO

ISLAMABAD: France has given an aid of Rs. 382 Million for the quak-hit areas of NWFP and Azad Kashmir Foreign Office revealed here Sunday.

France gave Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority this amount to construct homes for the affected people. French embassy in Pakistan also informed that France would provide Rs. 1 billion in financial assistance in line with meeting the pledge made by it of giving financial assistance to Pakistan for rehabilitation of the quake-hit areas in the north of the country.