Snowfall deaths: Relief given to next of kin

An ex gratia of Rs 7 lakh was distributed among the next of kin of seven persons who died of avalanches triggered due to heavy snowfall in Anantnag district. The legal heirs of six persons from Palhalan in the Kapran area and one person of Gulab Bagh, Dooru, who died due to snow avalanches were paid Rs 1 lakh each at Anantnag yesterday. The cheques were disbursed to the kith and kin at the district headquarters, District Development Commissioner, G.A. Peer said. The disbursement of the relief coincided with the visit of UPA chairperson and Congress president, Sonia Gandhi to review the situation arisen due to the heavy snowfall in the region earlier this month. Gandhi accompanied by the union Home Minister visited snow-affected areas of Doda and Kishtwar districts yesterday and reviewed the situation in Kashmir division with senior officers here. Her planned aerial survey of the affected areas in South Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Kulgam had been delayed due to bad weather conditions in the area. She, however, reviewed the situation accompanied by the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil at the airport before returning to New Delhi this evening. Sonia Gandhi arrived at the technical airport here where she was received by Union Minister for Water Resources and President JKPCC, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, Chief Secretary B. R. Kundal, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal and other senior civil and police officers. She was accompanied by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Joint Secretary, Home Affairs and other dignitaries. The DC gave presentation listing the detail of damage caused to infrastructure in power, roads and buildings and public health and engineering sectors due to the snowfall. She was informed that the state needed huge financial support for procuring new snow-cutter machines to be able to promptly respond to such exigencies in future. It was revealed that as of now the mechanical engineering department had only four snow cutters and 38 snow-clearance machines. The state might also need additional resources to manage the floods, which were imminent when the snow melts, for providing potable drinking water to the people living in inaccessible areas.