Demand to declare Himachal crisis a national disaster in Parl special session: Priyanka
During her visit to Shimla, Priyanka said that she is not sure if the Mandi MP will be allowed to raise the demand of declaring the calamity in Himachal as a national disaster but she still wanted to make a strong representation to the Centre about it. Pic: X/@priyankagandhi

Demand to declare Himachal crisis a national disaster in Parl special session: Priyanka

On her visit to rain-affected Himachal, Priyanka said the calamity the state had undergone should be declared as a 'national disaster' and wanted this demand to be taken up at the special session of the Parliament

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The Congress will raise the demand to declare the recent calamity in Himachal Pradesh as a 'national disaster' in the special session of Parliament, said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday (September 13).

Congress party MP from Mandi, Pratibha Singh will raise the issue, said Priyanka, adding that she was unsure if a party MP will be allowed make this during the session.

A special session of Parliament will be held from September 18 to 22.

“We do not 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 site in Summer Hill at Shimla.

Landslide victims

Priyanka also met the families affected by the landslide.

Twenty people were killed in the landslide at the Shiv temple on August 14. Three landslides had claimed 27 lives in Shimla city with Fagli and Krishnanagar slides claiming five and two lives.

The Congress leader said there are several issues like restoration of national highways, which can be fixed only by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and declaring the destruction following heavy rains a national disaster will facilitate restoration works in the state.

Reducing import duty on American apples

Slamming the government's move to lower import duty on American apples, she said the Centre is not fully aware of the extent of the damage in the state and the move would encourage imports and hit the local apple growers who have already suffered due to rains.

Declare calamity as national disaster

"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.

She reiterated that "the people of Himachal have set an example for the nation by uniting and coming to the forefront to help the affected families. People in the state have come forward to donate for those hit by natural calamities and even did 'shram dan' (physical labour) to open roads washed out by rains or blocked by landslides".

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.

BJP hits out

The Himachal BJP had on Tuesday hit out at Priyanka for visiting the calamity-hit state after two months 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 the months of July and August.

Death and destruction

Since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 12, Himachal Pradesh has suffered losses to the tune of ₹8,679 crore. About 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. Out of the 111 deaths in landslides, 94 were reported in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts, while 18 out of 19 deaths due to flash floods were also witnessed in these districts.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu has pegged the losses at ₹12,000 crore and earlier urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the calamity in Himachal Pradesh as a national disaster.

(With agency inputs)
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