Ad spent on Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary could have gone to Leh: BJP

     The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressing concern over the suffering of the Leh cloudburst victims on Friday said the funds being spent on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary could have been used for the people affected in the flash floods. "Crores of rupees have been spent on advertisements on Gandhi's anniversary today. It was better if this money was sent to children of Leh," said BJP leader Prabhat Jha raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha here today amid protests from the Congress leaders. Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said focus should now shift to restoration of public services and rehabilitation of the Leh cloudburst victims, assuring that no efforts would be spared by the Central Government in this regard. "We will fund a special package amounting to a sum of around Rs 125 crore for the Ladkah region from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). This will cover the restoration of drinking water supply, renovation of the power supply system including DG sets, repairs to the SNM Hospital and replacement of the C.T. Scan machine, in Leh," said Dr Singh. "It will also cover the restoration of the water supply system and the supply of DG set(s) of appropriate capacity to Kargil. In addition, untied grant of Rs 5 crore each will be provided to the Leh & Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils under the Special PMNRF package, to meet emergent requirements," he added on a day-long visit to Leh. The Prime Minister had earlier announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. The 434-kilometer vital Srinagar-Leh road damaged by the recent flash floods and landslides triggered by cloudbursts has been restored after days of hectic work done by the engineers and men of the Army, Border Roads Organisation and allied agencies. The total death toll rose to over 189, including 18 Nepali and Tibetan workers, three French, one Spanish and one Italian tourist. Around 500 people sustained injuries in the natural calamity. Five villages Sabu, Phyang, Nimoo, Choglumsar and Shapoo are worst hit by the sudden downpour and flash floods. Old Leh city is also among the worst affected.

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