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Monks to take up rehabilitation in Andaman and Nicobar

By Our Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE, FEB. 14. The Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a congregation of monks, proposes to take up rehabilitation in the tsunami-battered Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

It is planning to construct a school for orphans at a cost of Rs 42.50 lakhs, an orphanage at Rs. 60.20 lakhs and 200 dwelling units at Rs. 3 crores, according to Swami Parameshananda. Quite expensive

He told The Hindu that the construction cost was quite expensive on the islands, because men and material ought to be ferried from the mainland. A conservative estimate revealed that it would cost Rs 1,000 per square foot for a normal brick-and- mortar structure, and Rs. 750 per sq.ft for the low-cost tenements, almost double the cost of what was prevalent on the mainland.

Since all the jetties had been smashed, no trawlers or boats were touching the dockyard in the Little Andamans, rendering it near impossible to move the relief materials. This would add on to the cost, and hence building houses had become an expensive proposition there.

The Swami noted that the Sangha, with its headquarters at Kolkatta and having many foreign branches, was bent upon reaching out to the people in distress.

He recalled that after the Bhuj earthquake, the Sangha had built 250 quakeproof units at Kharda, besides a school and a handicraft-training centre. It had also launched an employment-generating project with the financial assistance of Rs 3 crores from the Times Foundation, Mumbai. It had also built 200 houses at Evseme block of Jagatsinghpur district after the super cyclone ravaged Orissa.

Of the proposed 250 housing units for the Sonankuppam fishermen, 40 had already been completed. The Cuddalore District Collector, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, appreciated the Sangha for its work. The president of the Sonankuppam panchayat, P.Parasuraman, said the monks had brought happiness and solace to the tsunami-hit fishermen.

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