Congress to raise Himachal flood fury in Parliament: Priyanka
Congress leader visits landslide site in Shimla, urges Centre to rise above “party politics” and help Himachal Pradesh besides declaring recent calamity a national disaster
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said that the party MP from Mandi, Pratibha Singh, who is also the state party chief, would raise the demand for declaring the recent calamity in Himachal Pradesh a national disaster in the special session of Parliament next week.
However, Priyanka said she was not sure if the party MP would be allowed to raise the demand during the session convened from September 18 to 22. “We don’t know what the session is about and whether she (Pratibha Singh) would be allowed to raise the issue or not but even if this does not happen, we should make a strong representation to the Centre on it and the Congress would fully support it,” she told reporters during her visit to the Shiv temple landslide site at Summer Hill in Shimla.
Later, she met families affected by the landslide that claimed 20 lives on August 14. A total of 27 people died in three landslides in Shimla city on that day with the Fagli and Krishnanagar slips claiming five and two lives, respectively.
The Congress leader said that the restoration of national highways could be fixed only by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and declaring the destruction following heavy rains this monsoon a national disaster would facilitate restoration works in the hill state.
‘Centre’s decision on apple imports to hit local growers’
Slamming the central government’s move to lower import duty on American apples, she said the Centre is not fully aware of the extent of damage in the state has undergone and its decision to encourage imports would hit local apple growers, who have already suffered due to the heavy rains.
“No one would like to do politics at this hour and everyone should come forward to help,” she said and asked the Centre to rise above “party politics” and help Himachal Pradesh without taking into consideration whether there is a Congress or BJP government in the state.
Priyanka, who is on a two-day visit to the rain-affected areas of Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts, had visited Mandi and Kullu on Tuesday and urged the Centre to declare the calamity in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy monsoon rains a national disaster.
Houses of people have been swept away and extensive damage has been caused, 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. People have come forward to donate for those hit by the calamity and even did ‘shram dan’ (physical labour) to open roads washed out by rains or blocked by landslides,” she said.
Though the state government is using its limited resources to provide succour to the affected families, it is difficult to restore normalcy and complete renovation works besides providing aid to the people without central help, the Congress leader said.
State suffers losses amounting to ₹8,679 crore
The Himachal Pradesh BJP unit had on Tuesday hit out at Priyanka for visiting the calamity-hit state in September and said, “Thanks, you spared time for this rain and landslide-hit state after two months.” Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains had wreaked havoc in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts in July and August.
Since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 12, Himachal Pradesh has suffered losses of ₹8,679 crore. At least 270 people have died in rain-related incidents, according to the state emergency operation centre.
As many as 165 landslides and 72 flash floods were reported during the monsoon season. Of the 111 deaths in landslides, 94 were reported in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts, while 18 of the 19 deaths due to flash floods were also recorded in these districts.
Chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu pegged the losses at ₹12,000 crore and earlier urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the calamity in Himachal Pradesh a national disaster.