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Wednesday, March 7, 2001

Gujarat Earthquake: News from the Epicentre

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Prince Charles comes to the aid of quake victims

LONDON, MAR 6: A novel scheme to build 2108 quake-proof houses in Gujarat by Shree Swaminarayan Mandir here, the biggest Hindu temple outside India, has been formally launched by Prince Charles, attracting instant sponsors.

The biggest support for the scheme came from the Hinduja Foundation. The Foundation's trustee, David Broad, announced that S P Hinduja and G P Hinduja, chairman and president respectively of the Hinduja Group, have decided to adopt a village under the scheme and would donate $ one million for the purpose.

The Sunrise radio, which had collected donations from the public, contributed 300,000 pounds while Ramniklal Solanki, Editor-in-Chief of Gharavi Gujarat, a Gujarati weekly, donated 50,000 pounds for the scheme.

Addressing a large gathering at the temple premises, Swami Atmaswarupdas, head of the mandir, said 6,500 volunteers of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha rushed to the aid of the earthquake victims within hours after the devastating tragedy on January 26.

To date, 20,000 victims of the quake in Gujarat were provided hot meals daily, 850,000 food packets, 1.5 million water pouches, 63,000 blankets and 169,000 articles of clothing have been distributed, he said.

But the most serious and difficult work was yet to begin as thousands still lie in the open without any shelter, the swami said.

"Hence, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha has adopted 10 villages and embarked upon building 2108 earthquake-resistant homes in the affected areas and sought liberal contributions from the public. About 400 homes will be built in Bhuj town," he said.

Expressing his deepest sympathies for those who lost their loved ones in the earthquke, Prince of Wales Prince Charles said "My heart goes out to them."

The Prince, who "cares for India and has deep affection for the country", announced that he would contribute from his charity, funds for building a primary school.

Indian High Commissioner Nareshwar Dayal said India was deeply touched by the spontaneous assistance that came from the international community and Britain was among the first countries to rush rescue and relief teams to the affected areas.

Charles also felicitated a number of organisations and individuals who had played a pivotal role in rescue and relief operations in Gujarat.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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