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Manipur CM visits relief camp, quake victims await help

By The Assam Tribune

Imphal, Jan 13 (IANS): Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi on Wednesday visited a relief camp at Kanglatongbi near here even as many of those affected by the January 4 earthquake complained of no government relief reaching them.

Accompanied by some ministers and MLAs and district officials, the chief minister visited the camp for a few minutes and left after assuring the affected of help.

At least 75 people are staying in the relief camp set up in a school in Kanglatongbi along National Highway-2. Some 179 houses were damaged there, local resident Shiva Kumar Das said.

Ibobi inaugurated a power sub-station at Sekmai, a few km from Kanglatongbi that is about 30 km from Imphal.

Official sources said on Wednesday that hundreds of people in Tamenglong district were affected, for whom two relief camps were set up. Five camps were set up in Senapati district, where over 1,000 houses were damaged.

At least seven people were killed and over 100 injured when an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale rocked Manipur and other north-eastern states before dawn.

Many affected villagers as well as local women vendors said that the state government was yet to provide them basic relief materials or monetary compensation.

The chief minister was yet to visit the damaged market complexes in Imphal, just a few metres away from his office, they added.

"The complexes are closed down and made out of bounds. We have been requesting the government to give us alternative sites to ply our businesses but there has been no positive response," lamented local street vendor K. Sorojini.

In the absence of an alternative site, some women vendors were selling vegetables, fish and other consumables by the roadside, leading to resentment among other street vendors.

"Licence holders inside the complexes used to abuse and chase us away. Sometimes we were manhandled as they said that customers do not go inside as we ply our trade at the entrance. The government should see to it that our business is not affected," said fish vendor Ibemma.

Another displaced vendor Priya said: "We are selling our wares by the roadside not by choice. We are daily wagers and have to somehow feed our children."

Apart from the two marketing complexes, most parts of the state capital are closed as some high rise buildings have been partially damaged by the quake.

Officials said owners of buildings and houses higher than three storeys were issued notices last year, asking them for certificates from structural engineers on constructions but there was not much response.

The Manipur government had sought Rs.500 crore from the Centre. In the face of alleged inadequate government relief, some BJP activists and non-governmental organisations have distributed some materials among the affected.

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