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RAWALPINDI, April 1: The process of reconstruction in the quake-hit areas of Azad Kashmir and NWFP will commence from April 7. This was decided at a meeting held here on Saturday with President General Pervez Musharraf in the chair.

The meting decided to build a new city in place of the completely ravaged town of Balakot in the light of the seismic survey report conducted by foreign experts. The NWFP government was asked to identify the site for the new town.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani, AJK Prime Minister Sikandar Hayat, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) chairman Altaf M. Saleem attended the meeting.

The governments of the quake-hit NWFP and Azad Kashmir will begin distributing forms among the affected from April 7. After a 10-day processing period, the two governments will start releasing Rs75,000 each for the reconstruction of completely destroyed houses and Rs50,000 each for the partially damaged houses.

The meeting also approved a monthly subsistence allowance of Rs3,000 to be paid to each affected family for six months.

The president and prime minister noted that distribution of Rs4.5 billion in next six months will greatly help the victim families to start rebuilding their lives.

Addressing the meeting, President Musharraf pledged to build quake-resistant houses and infrastructure in the affected areas.

He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to rebuild houses on the owner-driven strategy and said the government would assist the survivors with technical advice to construct their houses futuristically.

He said the reconstruction of the infrastructure would take place under a need-based strategy as the government would put in place educational institutions, hospitals, government buildings and roads on modern lines.