On June 21,as the extent of the devastation caused by rain and landslides in Uttarakhand became evident,The Indian Express announced the Express Citizens Relief Fund to help those affected by the tragedy. Over the next few months,contributions poured in to the Fund from readers of The Indian Express concerned individuals and institutions who were moved to do their bit for the victims of the catastrophe.
Now,six months after the disaster,The Indian Express Citizens Relief Fund,which is registered as a trust under the Indian Trusts Act,has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Uttarakhand government to help build a new wing of the Government Inter College campus at Triyuginarayan in the worst-hit Kedar valley.
The new building will have at least 12 classrooms and three science laboratories. The state government will give Rs 1.2 crore of the estimated Rs 3.2-crore cost of the project; the rest will be provided by the Fund. The Fund will also bring in technical resources required for the initiative.
The government will create the general conditions to ensure that the work progresses smoothly and on schedule. It will set up a five-member committee headed by the district magistrate of Rudraprayag to provide administrative support and review the progress of the work.
As per the MoU,the Trust will hand over the first phase of the building and other assets by December 31,2014. The MoU,which was signed on December 6,will be valid until December 2015.
The Indian Express Group has always provided a helping hand to people in distress,which has earned them admiration. This noble gesture of adopting a school in the Kedarnath valley will give a healing touch to the people of the area,especially the children, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said.
Readers of The Indian Express have repeatedly demonstrated their generosity and largeheartedness in times of natural disasters in the past. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,they contributed over Rs 1.27 crore to the relief fund,which paid for 12 ultra modern ambulances for EMRI,Chennai.
After floods in the Kosi river wrecked hundreds of thousands of lives in Bihar in 2008,readers of the newspaper donated Rs 54 lakh. This sum,along with other donations,was used to build a two-storey,12-room Express Block at the Navkumar High School in Lagma,Sonbarsa,in Saharsa district. The building was inaugurated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on May 27,2011.
After the 2011 Sikkim earthquake,readers of The Indian Express once again contributed generously to help build a disaster management building which,when completed,will also serve as an extension to the West Point Senior Secondary School in Gangtok.
The foundation stone of the Rs 70-lakh building was laid by the assembly speaker in April.
Besides these projects,The Indian Express has also led citizens initiatives to build the Chandigarh War Memorial,the largest of its kind in India,and the 14-classroom Express Block at the Kargil Shaheed Subedar Tara Chand Memorial Government School at Khera village in Nalagarh,Himachal Pradesh.
The Indian Express has always stood by our countrymen whenever any natural or man-made calamity has struck. It has always expressed its solidarity with our men in uniform. During the Kargil conflict,The Express bought satellite phones for our jawans so that they could keep in touch with their families, said Swadesh Talwar,head of Express Archives and Corporate Social Responsibility.