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February 13, 2001 - February 13, 2001

Sonia visits Bhuj Tuesday, February 13, 2001

BHUJ: Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited Bhuj on Monday as part of her three-day tour of the quake-hit Kutch district.

Ahmed Patel, Pavan Kumar Bansal and Jagdish Tytler are accompanying her during the trip.

She went to several areas of old Bhuj and met people personally, breaking all security protocols. At a camp set up at the Muslim High School near Ghanchi Falia, people told her they were not getting any relief material, particularly in the Muslim-dominated areas.

She also visited Sanjognagar area on Mota Pir Road, Indirabai Girls High School, Vania Wad, Hospital Road, Jubilee Ground and Madhapar village near Bhuj. Later in the evening, she was to visit Padhar, Dhanati, Dudhai and Dhamadaka.

As per the programme, she will stay at the BSF camp in Adipur and will visit Bhachau, Anjar and Gandhidham on Tuesday.

Speaking to media persons, she assured all possible help from the Congress party.

Earlier, Kutch District Congress president Mahesh Thakkar, who has lost his brother, sister-in-law and their daughter in the quake, welcomed Sonia at the Bhuj airport.

Non-disposal of carcasses can lead to infections Tuesday, February 13, 2001

AHMEDABAD: With rescue workers, as also the locals, focusing on disposal of decomposed human bodies while carcasses rot out in the open, chances of outbreak of zoonosis (any inadvertent infection of humans by an animal pathogen) in Kutch and adjoining areas have increased manifold.

Pointing towards the scores of undiscovered or half-burnt carcasses lying in many areas of Kutch, medical teams working in the region say they pose serious threat even to people in the surrounding regions.

According to Dr H T Rawate, member of a veterinary team from Maharashtra which is touring Gujarat, the main task daunting all those assisting in the relief work is to trace animals which have drifted away from communities and have died of hunger, thirst, or even wounds in deserted areas.

He said the first and foremost job would be to trace and burn the dead animals to avoid infection to other animals or zoonosis.

"Most of the animals during their lifetime face the attacks of pathogenic microbes capable of producing diseases like tuberculosis, rabies and anthrax which the immune system fights back. But when these animals die, activities of such disease-spreading microbes increase by several thousand times," Rawate said.

"Often carcasses become food for other animals and the diseases start spreading though such vectors," asserts Ahmedabad's Kamala Nehru Park zoo superintendent R K Sahu. Also, spores, produced due to excessive activities of the organisms on the dead animals, spill into the atmosphere, thus entering the bodies of animals and human beings through air, Sahu adds.

"Although initially there were rumours of zoonosis hitting areas like Rapar, they later turned out to be false," said Rawate. He said the teams of veterinary doctors arrived in time to administer the required treatment to the animals and adopted necessary measures for the dead ones.

In areas where the carcasses are buried under the debris, the threat is comparatively less but in areas like Anjar and Bhachau, chances of outbreak of zoonosis are potentially high as a large number of sheep, cow and buffalo have drifted away to uninhabited regions and died due to scarcity of water and food.

Consumption of discarded stale food and polymer packaging materials, too, are a potential threat for serious infection among animals. "Haemoraegicsepticimia is a disease similar to diphtheria in humans. It is caused primarily due to irregular feeding and feeding under stress," said Dr S N Pandey, also a member of a mobile veterinary team now operating in Kutch. This disease causes swellings in the neck region of the animal, leading to difficulty in breathing.

Monitoring of the disease has become far more crucial in the panjrapoles of Kutch from where a large number of workers have fled.

Some experts say if such diseases affect milk-producing animals, then milk consumed from these can lead to abortions in humans.

The government has, with the assistance of the neighbouring states, launched a major vaccination campaign to immunise the animals of the area against these diseases. However, success of the project mainly depends on the voluntary organisations, apart from the relief teams, as a large number of workers of the animal husbandry department have either been caught up in self-rehabilitation or have left their areas in fear of yet another quake.

1 lakh more tents needed in Kutch Tuesday, February 13, 2001

RAJKOT: Kutch still needs one lakh more tents, officer on special duty S Jagdeeshan has said. Out of the total demand of around two lakh tents, so far only 50 per cent have reached the quake-hit district.

Giving this information to The Times of India on phone on Sunday, Jagdeeshan said people continued to live in the open, weathering biting cold. Even people who had not lost their homes, preferred the safety of tents as aftershocks continued to rock the region.

He said as many as 70,000 tents were sent to Kutch by foreign agencies while another 40,000 were nation's help to the affected people.

Meanwhile, the Gandhidham-Bhuj broad gauge line was made functional from Monday. A relief train would come to Bhuj everyday from Gandhidham and on the return journey, it would carry passengers.

According to railway authorities here, the train would leave Gandhidham at 1 pm and arrive in Bhuj at 4.30 pm. The train would be later connected to the Kutch Express.

50 high-rise bldgs in Bhuj have collapsed: Survey Tuesday, February 13, 2001

RAJKOT: As many as 50 high-rise buildings in Bhuj have collapsed and 175 others have been severely damaged by the January 26 killer quake, a survey revealed. The survey, conducted after 18 days of the quake, also revealed that most of the surviving erect structures have developed large cracks.

Sources in the Bhuj collectorate told TOINS on Monday that there were 225 three-storeyed or more buildings here before the Black Friday. Out of these 50 buildings have been reduced to rubble while the other 175 have been declared unsafe for human dwelling by the structural engineers.

Almost all the remaining 175 buildings have developed large cracks and the condition has only worsened due to the frequent aftershocks. Dwellers of these buildings have been advised not to enter their house for retrieving their belongings, as there were chances of collapse.

According to some structural engineers in Bhuj, these buildings have no grip between the column beams and the walls that support these beams. There are 35 such structures on Station Road, 40 to 50 on Hospital Road, around 50 in Ghanshyamnagar while some in Bhanushalinagar.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to provide relief to around 35,000 quake-affected in Morbi, Maliya and Wankaner areas by arranging makeshift shelters. Forty wagons loaded with tin sheets have been allocated for Rajkot district in this regard.

The Steel Authority of India have allocated similar 40 wagons of tin sheets for the affected people. It is learnt that each family would be provided with six to eight tin sheets. This would enable the district administration to provide 'semi-houses' for the affected till pucca houses are constructed for them.

Besides that the state government have also allocated Rs 10 crore for relief operations in Rajkot district. Around 22,000 ration kits have also been distributed to the affected. The kit consists of basic commodities like flour, rice, oil, onion, potatoes and masala.

The district administration here have also decided to start schools in large tents.

Quake-hit to be issued 'family card' Tuesday, February 13, 2001

RAJKOT: A 'family card' will be issued to every family to avail of work at quake relief sites, deputy district development officer Jayesh Gadhiya, has said. The card, countersigned by three officials, will be a sort of an identity card without which no family can avail of work at these sites.

Such a card is being issued with a view to curbing irregularities in relief works. Last year, instances of money being siphoned off by persons reporting for work at one place and having their names registered at other sites, have come to light.

According to Gadhiya, only 50 per cent of the family members will be provided relief work, this time. The district panchayat will determine how many persons to employ and issue a card listing the names of persons to be allotted work. This card will be countersigned by the talati mantri, administrator and taluka development officer.

Adhiya said most quake-hit people were eager for relief works to start. Sixty-five relief works had already been started from February 2 and the figure would increase, he said.

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