Sukhu moves resolution in Assembly urging Centre to declare HP calamity a 'national disaster'
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu Monday moved a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha urging the Centre to declare the recent calamity in the state a 'national disaster'.
''The government declared the entire state as calamity hit on August 18 and I appeal to the Union Government to immediately declare it as a national calamity and give a special relief package to the state as relief and restoration is not possible without liberal assistance from the centre,'' said the chief minister.
The magnitude of the disaster is equivalent to the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, 2013 Kedarnath calamity and land sinking at Joshimath in 2022 and we expect a similar package for the state, he said. Moving the resolution, Sukhu said that destruction was unprecedented but the state government faced the challenge boldly and besides restoring the services like water and power supply and opening roads, rescued the stranded people from inaccessible areas and also provided them relief.
The eight-day-long monsoon session of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha started on a stormy note on Monday with the opposition BJP staging a walkout after the Speaker rejected their adjournment motion, seeking an immediate discussion on the monsoon calamity in the state.
Rejecting the motion of BJP members moved under Rule 67, Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania said a notice for discussing the damage caused by the rains had already been received under Rule 102, a reference to the resolution the government planned to move later.
Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur accused the state government of failing to provide relief to affected people and indulging in discrimination in the distribution of relief. Taking a dig at Sukhu for claiming that the Centre did not help, Thakur said that the Central government was constantly helping the state, adding, ''If everything is to be done by the Centre, what for is the state government here?'' Sukhu said heavy rains during the monsoon triggered massive landslides, causing huge damage to roads, bridges, drinking water and irrigation schemes, power projects and private and public property besides loss of human life.
The state faced the fury of monsoon from July 7 to 11, August 11 to 14 and August 22 to 26, during which it suffered direct losses of about Rs 9,000 crore and if indirect losses are added, the figure goes up to more than Rs 12,000 crore, the chief minister said.
Since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 17, as many as 275 persons died in rain-related incidents including 112 in landslides, 19 in flash floods 14 in cloudbursts, 37 due to drowning, 16 due to lightning, 47 due to falling of rocks and uprooting of trees and 30 due to other reasons while 39 persons are still missing. In addition. 166 persons died in road accidents raising the total death to 441, he added.
The resolution said that the Larji power project of the state electricity Board in Kullu district suffered a loss of Rs 657.7 crore due to faulty construction of road by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) while the state incurred a loss of Rs 344 crore due to interruption in power generation and the total loss to the power sector was Rs 1000 crores.
About 200 villages have been affected due to the sinking of land while several villages have been destroyed and are not habitable and the people have been shifted to the relief camps.
Besides, state highways and major district roads, all national highways have been badly affected disrupting the transportation of goods. The tourist season was at its peak when the calamity hit the state and 75,000 tourists were stranded in the state and they had to cancel their trips, causing losses to the tourism sector.
The main industrial area of Baddi–Barotiwala–Nalagarh was cut off due to damage to roads, affecting transportation of finished products and mobility of the workforce resulting in a shortfall in production.
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