Declare Himachal catastrophe as national disaster: Priyanka to Centre

IANS Photo

Manali, September 12 (IANS) Asking the Centre to declare the catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh a national disaster, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with Chief  Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu on Tuesday visited areas of Kullu district and interacted with disaster-affected people.

Both the leaders visited the confluence of the Parvati and the Beas River in Bhuntar and at Potato Ground in Manali, the areas badly devastated by the fury of floods triggered by torrential rain in July and August.

The people narrated their woes with Priyanka Gandhi and lauded efforts of the government in providing timely relief to the affected, besides the personal efforts of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues for the relief and rescue operations.

Priyanka Gandhi, while interacting with the media in Manali, lauded the efforts of the people who had come forward in this hour of distress by voluntarily contributing towards the Aapda Rahat Kosh to help the affected population.

She said the people of Himachal have set an example for the nation by uniting and coming to the forefront to help the affected families.

She also lauded the efforts of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues who were on the spot for more than three days monitoring the relief and rescue operations.

Priyanka Gandhi said the state government was doing far beyond its limited resources to provide succour to the affected families without assistance from the Union government.

She said during such difficult times, the Centre should not discriminate with the states. “It is the duty of the Union government to provide aid in such circumstances, analyzing the impact of the disaster.”

She said the Center should declare such a massive catastrophe as a national disaster and should immediately come forward for the help of the affected.

Even the farmers and horticulturalists have suffered enormous losses and the Centre should pay heed towards their plight as well. Some big industrial houses, dealing in fruit marketing, have reduced the price of the apple crop, causing losses to the horticulturalists.

The Centre has also reduced the import duty on the US apple, which will also directly affect the horticulturalists of the state. The Central leadership should also think about the benefits of the farmers and horticulturalists of the state.

The Chief Minister said during his recent visit to Delhi he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the dinner hosted by the President for the members of G20 nations and detailed Modi about the damages caused.

“I again urged the Prime Minister to declare the calamity as a national disaster,” Sukhu said.

He said even Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has personally monitored the flood-hit regions.

The Chief Minister said the state has estimated losses of Rs 8,000 crore till August 10 and thereafter between August 10 and 14, the second spell of heavy rain, spiked the losses to around Rs 12,000 crore.

Sukhu said without a second thought the Centre government should voluntarily extend the financial support for the people of the state.

The Chief Minister said the state government has taken a decision to pay for the rented accommodation of those who were staying in relief camps so as to lessen their sufferings.

The Kullu Fruit Growers Mandal of Katrain presented a cheque for Rs five lakh to the Chief Minister towards the Aapda Rahat Kosh.