PESHAWAR - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that priority was given to pay compensations to earthquake affectees for rebuilding of their houses in view of winter and directed authorities concerned to complete disbursement of financial help by November 25.

Addressing earthquake-affected people at Panakot in Upper Dir on Thursday, where the premier distributed cheques among the afectees, he assured his government's full support to help them return to normal lives.

The government, immediately after the earthquake, mobilised all resources and directed authorities to reach out to the affected people in the remotest areas, Nawaz Sharif said adding, that first priority was the relief efforts and to reach out to the injured and the second phase was their rehabilitation which was on. It was his obligation to reach out to the people who had suffered because of the natural calamity, he was of the view.

He said that priority was given to ensure rebuilding of damaged houses before the harsh winter sets in. The prime minister said that his government was fully aware of the problems being faced by the affected people, living in the remote areas.

On this occasion, he offered 'Fateha' for those who lost their lives and extended his profound grief. Though the payments were not a compensation for the precious lives lost, but was meant to help their families cope with the great loss, he added.

Accompanied by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, JI Member National Assembly from Dir Tariq Ullah Khan and Adviser on Political Affairs Amir Muqam, Sharif was earlier given a briefing about the extent of damages caused by the magnitude 8 earthquake that shook the area on Oct 26, killing 188 people in the province.

Moreover, he was briefed in detail about earthquake relief, rehabilitation measures in Upper Dir. Briefing the premier, commissioner Upper Dir said the quake killed 20 people in Upper Dir and injured 162. Of them, payment had been made to families of 14 killed and 35 injured.

Soon after the earthquake, Sharif had announced a compensation package of Rs 600,000 for those killed, Rs 200,000 for those who lost a limb, Rs 100,000 for the injured, Rs 200,000 for fully damaged house, while Rs 100,000 for partially damaged houses.

The commissioner said that the relief goods distributed included 3,447 tents, 5,018 blankets, 1,938 cooked food packets and 298 floor mats.

During his visit to Lower Dir, the prime minister announced construction of a high quality road from Chakdara-Dir-Chitral and said the Lowari tunnel too would be completed by next year and help shorten the travel time and ease their sufferings. He said the two projects would cost Rs 50 billion. Besides, he also announced construction of a 132KVA grid station to help meet the power requirements of the area. He said the government would be able to address the issue of power shortages soon.

Referring to the demand of the locals about provision of natural gas to the region, he said the locally produced gas was not enough to meet the demand. However he assured that gas would be provided to Upper Dir as soon as the country's gas requirements from imports were met.

The prime minister assured quake affected people that the government would take every possible step to mitigate their sufferings and help them stand on their own feet.