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Permanent shelters for tsunami-hit by year-end

Special Correspondent

Land being handed over to non-governmental organisations

CHENNAI: The Government hopes to complete construction of permanent shelters for those affected by the tsunami by December 2005, R. Santhanam, Commissioner of Revenue Administration, said on Thursday.

While the first batch of shelters in a couple of villages would be ready as early as mid-September, the majority of the 70,000 shelters would be ready for occupation by the end of the year, Mr. Santhanam added. Already, between 70-80 per cent of land acquisition process is over, except in Chennai and currently district authorities are engaged in registering transactions and handing over construction to the non-government organisations.

Inaugurating the Tamil Nadu Tsunami Resource Centre (TNTRC) in Chennai, Mr. Santhanam said each permanent house would be built at a cost of Rs. 1.5 lakh.

While the Government would not forcibly evict anyone residing within the 200 metre (from the coastline) mark, those who wish to shift outside the limit would be accommodated too.

Back to work

Also, 90 per cent of fishermen were back at work and the number of fibre boats had increased compared to the pre-tsunami position. Grants up to Rs. 75,000 was given for buying fibre boats while for mechanised boats, the subsidy component (35 per cent) was linked with the loan component (65 per cent).

With reference to agricultural lands made saline by the influx of seawater following the tsunami, Mr. Santhanam said the summer rains had removed the salt content from the topsoil.

As part of the entire tsunami relief package for the State, the Government had sanctioned about Rs.1050 crore.

Of this, over Rs.800 crore has already been released. The Government of India's contribution was about Rs.626 crore and Rs.140 -150 crore had come from contributions to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

The TNTRC was set up as a joint initiative of the UNDP on behalf of the U.N. Recovery Team, the Central Government, the Tamil Nadu Government and NGOs to complement the efforts of the State and support recovery planning.

Maxine Olson, UNDP Resident Representative and U.N. Representative said the Centre would function in a transparent and accountable manner.

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