Shimla, September 13 (IANS): Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday took stock of relief and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-affected areas of Shimla.
Both interacted with affected families at Shiv Bawari and expressed grief over the loss of life and property in the mishap.
While interacting with the media, Priyanka Gandhi emphasised the severity of the devastation triggered by torrential rains during this monsoon season and urged the Union government to declare it as a national disaster keeping in view the huge loss.
“The situation in Himachal Pradesh is very painful and the state has suffered immense losses. The state government led by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu is working tirelessly to provide relief to the disaster affected people.
“The Union government seems to be unable to grasp the gravity of the situation in Himachal Pradesh. The losses in the state are so substantial that the state government cannot handle it alone. Therefore, the Union government must rise above the petty politics and help generously the people of the state during this challenging time.”
She emphasised the need to rise above the political differences and called for collective efforts to aid Himachal Pradesh in this time of need.
She said though the Congress was not aware of the agenda to be brought during the special session of the Parliament, the party would raise the issue during this special session and urged for special relief package for the state.
She said the party will represent the matter with the Union government in Parliament. She said the Central government must not politicise the matter merely on the basis of party lines and shall extend wholehearted support to alleviate the sufferings and help the state recovering from this devastating disaster.
Priyanka Gandhi also commended the spirit of unity and cooperation demonstrated by the people who were coming forward to contribute to cope up with the tragedy.
She said: “It was heartening to witness the selfless contributions of the people with women even donating their labour to reopen the roads in Kullu district. She said reduction of import duty on American apples from 35 per cent to 15 per cent has also affected the apple growers of Himachal.”
She said that the Union government was helping Americans instead of the apple growers of the state who had already gone through the hardships caused by the devastation.
She said big business houses were offering lower prices for the purchase of apple produce in Himachal.
The Chief Minister said the state government was extending unwavering support to the affected families despite its limited resources and has decided to provide fixed rent to the affected families staying in relief camps so that they can hire suitable accommodation.
He said the government would provide Rs 5,000 in rural areas and Rs 10,000 in urban areas for bearing the rent expenses.
He said in view of large-scale devastation, a large number of temporary relief camps have been set up in many districts. Many of these relief camps have been set up in makeshift accommodations and schools, etc.
In view of this, the government has decided to provide rented accommodation to the families staying in relief camps.