The Times of India reported the following on 23 October 2010:-
LEH: As an unforgiving winter waits to descend on the mountainous desert of Ladakh, its people face the grim possibility of spending the bitter months without a proper roof on their heads. Having suffered due to the August cloudburst, residents of Leh’s many villages have been banking on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s word that all houses destroyed during the calamity would be built before the onset of winter. It’s been over two months since that promise, and hope is fading away.
Relief work in the flood-affected areas is moving slowly, and those holed up in camps say the cold months ahead could be even more unbearable than the cloudburst. With minimum temperature dipping to as low as minus 30-40 degrees celsius during extremely biting days, Leh winters are harsh for even those furnished with heaters and ‘bukharis’.
In Choglamsar – one of the worst-affected by flashfloods – natives are busy rebuilding their houses and lives. Most led simple lives, with thought of such catastrophes not even crossing their minds. But that August night changed all that.
Tsering Dolma and her husband Chhering Wangdus, a landlord, had to take a small dwelling unit on rent because they say the tent was too cold for their three little children. “We’ve been given Rs 1.5 lakh for rehabilitation,” said Tsering, as she prepares the cement mixture. With the family’s fields too ruined, Chhering fears that they would soon run out of their meager savings. “If we manage to construct the house on time, we’ll be able to save on the rent,” he added.
Gya also shared his worry about rehabilitation work suffering as migrant labourers would return home by the end of this month. “Nothing is being done to keep them back,” he claimed.
However, deputy commissioner T Angchuk, who was recently asked to proceed on leave in view of the elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, said, “A major part of the Prime Minister’s Rs 125 crore relief package has been earmarked for rehabilitation and ex gratia compensation.” Quoting official figures, he said 234 people, including six foreigners, had lost their lives in the cloudburst and 68 others were missing. “Our survey has found that while 688 houses were destroyed, 690 were partially damaged,” he added. With majority of residents losing their only source of income in the form of agricultural land, the DC said reclamation was also a priority.
“Close to 600 hectare land has to be reclaimed at a cost of Rs 18 crore,” he added. Estimates for the same, he said, had been sent to the Centre after a panel of experts had prepared its report on the damages. “Besides this, NGOs have played a major role in relief operations,” Angchuk added.
Claiming that the process of rehabilitation was on track, tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said, “In Solar Colony, work is on to built the dwelling units up to the plinth level before winter. As many as 450 prefabricated structures would be provided by the Union ministry of tourism and housing and urban poverty alleviation.” Though Jora asserted that these structures consisting of one bedroom and bathroom would be ready by November 15 in the worst-case scenario, those living in Himank relief camp doubted the claims.
Sonam Angmo, who is living in one of the tents along with two young children, said, “We were promised Rs 2 lakh but I haven’t got a single penny. My husband is in Bihar and I have to construct the house alone.” Her immediate priority is to arrange a heating apparatus for their home, when it comes up.
In Sabu village — once a model village under the PM’s programme — where rubble still lies strewn as it did two months ago, Sangborma, a middle-aged homemaker, complained that the government had done nothing to improve their lot. “Our lives have changed forever,” she despaired.
For 35-year-old Stanzin Dolma, who lost her daughter in the cloudburst, winter seems to have come soon enough. “Water has already begun freezing in pipes during morning hours. It’s unbearably cold in the tent and nights are especially gloomy. I’m waiting for the compensation that is to be deposited in my bank account,” she added. Stanzin is staying in Himank relief camp, the biggest such quarter set up by Army after the cloudburst, and where every house has a sad tale to tell. NGOs have provided bathing cubicles and toilets in the area, where chilly evenings leave everybody huddled together in makeshift canvas structures.
Though children have returned to school, they haven’t been able to understand the nightmare that has befallen them. Parents say most of them have unending questions about what happened that night, and why, in such cold weather, they have only a thin piece of fabric above their heads, instead of the warm comfort of home.
Read more: Roof of the world awaits warm cover – The Times of India timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Roof-of-the-world-awaits-warm-cover/articleshow/6796380.cms#ixzz13fbNB0RW