Pakistan

Pakistan: Last year's earthquake victims to be resettled

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ISLAMABAD, 30 April (IRIN) - Thousands of victims from last November's earthquakes which rocked parts of Pakistan's Northern Areas are to be returned to where they lived and will receive compensation from the government.
"The government will provide the complete infrastructure of roads and power, and help rebuild their homes," the public relations officer for the Ministry of Northern Affairs, Abdul Akbar, told IRIN in the capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday.

Several tremors in the Astor valley, measuring up to 5.8 on the Richter scale, affected some 14,000 people, left hundreds homeless and living in tents, because they were too scared to stay in their own homes, following the jolts which damaged the buildings leaving them unstable. At least 30 people died, as a result of the quakes.

At that time the government evacuated nearly 2,000 people from vulnerable areas and relocated them to a camp at Guner Farm, some 100 km from Gilgit, the administrative capital of the Northern Areas.

However, Akbar said there was a dispute over the amount of cash compensation for the villagers. "People were demanding 100,000 rupees [US $1,500] per family, but the government is offering up to 5,000 rupees per family." He added that he hoped they would reach an agreement soon. "The two parties will be negotiating over this amount and, maybe they can reach another amount of around 30,000 rupees."

Asked why the government had taken so long in announcing a compensation package, he replied: "This takes a lot of planning. Their immediate needs have been addressed, and they are satisfied with this initial stage of help," he replied.

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