January 30, 2001

Lifeline Express pressed into service - Bulletin III

The earthquake of the magnitude that struck Bhuj on January 26, 2001 is a national calamity of devastating proportions. Group Chairman Ratan N. Tata has sent out a personal appeal to every Tata employee to do what he or she can to help the victims of this disaster in every possible way. The Tata Group, its individual companies and employees, are contributing funds, vehicles, medical supplies and organising other forms of relief such as blood donation, for the earthquake victims.

The Lifeline Express, a train popularly known as a 'hospital on wheels’ which moves along rural areas giving life and succor to its people has also been pressed into service. The train will be leaving for Gandhidham on February 1, 2001. Sponsored by the Tata Group, the train is equipped with doctors, nurses, other medical staff, an operation theatre, medical equipment and supplies.

Mobilising resources, financial and otherwise, for dealing with such a natural disaster requires that appropriate systems and monitoring mechanisms be in place. To ensure smooth and effective relief operations, the Tata Group has nominated Jamshed Kanga, an expert in handling relief measures, to represent the Tata Relief Committee and coordinate the operation.

Mr Kanga has flown to Bhuj by air in a chartered Indian Hotels aircraft to assess the situation on the ground and liaise with local NGOs and the district administration to decide on the best mode of distributing relief to the affected families. To ensure convergence of all Tata relief activities, a high-powered committee has also been formed at the group level; this committee can meet and swing into action at short notice, whenever the need arises.

In the true humanitarian spirit, several Tata companies have already swung into action. Tata Chemicals took the lead in providing relief to people affected by the earthquake in Dwarka, Okha, and the areas surrounding surrounding their plant at Mithapur. The company’s plant suffered only minor damage to certain structures. The company has formed a team to assist in relief work and is providing medical support, food and water to the affected people.

In an emergency meeting with Jamshedpur’s senior citizens, the Tata Steel union and management met to discuss and decide on the implementation of various relief measures. The employees of the company have decided to donate a day’s salary, which amounts to Rs 1.5 crore. The company will make a matching contribution. On Monday, February 5, 2001 the company will be flying 320 units of blood to Bhuj. Medical teams and medicines will be flown depending on the requirement of the local authorities. The company has also sent ten thousand blankets.

J.J. Irani, managing director, Tata Steel, emphasised that "money will not be a constraint in offering assistance in the time of this national emergency". He appealed to the citizens of Jamshedpur and to other companies and their employees to join in these efforts to assist the earthquake victims. The managing director, Timken India, and B. L. Raina, managing director, The Tinplate Company of India (TCIL), have committed their support to the relief efforts.

Other Tata companies that have rushed relief material and personnel to Gujarat are Tata Engineering who has sent 2 ambulances by air this morning, one equipped with an operation theatre and the other a stationary ambulance to carry people around. Both ambulances are equipped with medical staff and supplies. The company is co-ordinating the activity with Mr. Kanga in Bhuj to also dispatch a water tanker, a bus and 30 volunteers among several other supplies as may be required. Tata Power has also set aside seven diesel generator sets, 2000 blankets, 200 tents and 600 bottles of blood as part of the companies relief aid.

In 1999, during the Kargil war, the Tata Group donated Rs 11 crore which was the largest contribution made by a single corporate entity. The group was also one of the largest contributors at Rs 5.5 crore to the Latur quake in 1993.