Quake-hit Nepal urgently needs one million tents to provide temporary shelter to thousands of victims of the devastating temblor that killed over 7,300 people, Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh said on Monday.

According to the Nepalese government, the earthquake have so far destroyed 1,60,786 houses and damaged 1,43,642, forcing thousands of people to stay in the open battling bad weather.

“Nepal urgently needs around one million tents to provide shelter to the affected people as more than 300,000 buildings have collapsed during the earthquake,” Mr. Singh, who is also Nepali Congress general secretary, told PTI.

Hundreds of buildings have developed cracks and people are scared to return to their houses, he said.

Mr. Singh said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee will hand over some one lakh tarpaulins to the government of Nepal as relief material. Minister for Urban Infrastructure Development Narayan Khadka has left for Jhapa district near Kakarbhitta to receive the tarpaulins, he said.

“As you know the monsoon season is fast approaching and it takes months to begin reconstruction works, so we need tents to shelter people. There is no tent manufacturing plant in Nepal, so we are seeking help from possible areas including India, Thailand and Pakistan for tents,” Mr. Singh said.

He said the government is making all efforts to provide relief to the people. He asked people not be taken away by rumours aimed at tarnishing the image of the government.

He dismissed comments made by some leftist leaders, who termed foreign assistance pouring to Nepal as interference in our affairs, saying “We need foreign aid, foreign experts and relief materials at this moment and those offering such help cannot be taken as interference.”

“We also need specially trained foreign manpower to carry out rescue of the victims of the earthquake,” he insisted.

He dismissed media reports that Indian aircraft involved in rescue and relief operations in Nepal have crossed the border and entered into the border of the northern neighbour.

“All the foreign aircraft are operating under the command of the Nepal Army and there is no such possibility,” he said.

“Aircraft have arrived not only from India but also from China and USA for relief works and all of them are functioning under the command of Nepal Army,” he added.

He appreciated government of India for the assistance provided to the quake-hit Nepal.

The government has made request to international communities for assistance and we need quick response as time is running out for the relief works, he said.

“We are getting very positive response from all over the world including, India,” he added.

Singh also dismissed media reports that relief materials provided by donors are misused in a large scale.

The government is seriously monitoring the relief activities and there is no possibility of large scale misuse of funds and materials, he said.

“We are working 17-18 hours a day during the time of emergency,” he said.

Mr. Singh said the process of drafting the new constitution has been affected due to the devastating earthquake.

“We will start deliberations on various issues of constitution drafting after a couple of weeks,” he said, adding that the contentious issues will be dealt in by framing questionnaire and the disputed matter will be decided by majority votes.

“We will try to seek consensus among political parties in each and every step of constitution making,” he said.

There are four contentious issues, forms of governance, electoral process, judiciary and federal structure.

There has been almost agreement among parties in the three issues excluding the federal