Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. File | Photo Credit: PTI
The damage and destruction caused by the recent record-breaking rains in Himachal Pradesh should be declared a “national disaster” just like the Kedarnath tragedy of 2013, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Ms. Vadra also sought financial assistance for providing relief to the victims and their families as well as for rebuilding the State.
The Congress leader, who visited the State earlier this week, said apart from being the land of gods, Himachal Pradesh is also a State of true, simple, and hard-working people.
“The women, farmers, employees, businesspersons and youth of Himachal are very hard-working and self-respecting. Today, the same people are facing an unprecedented crisis. Floods and landslides have caused massive destruction in the state,” Ms. Vadra said in her letter to the prime minister.
“Recently, I met disaster victims in Shimla, Kullu, Manali and Mandi. It was very sad to see the devastation everywhere. So far, 428 people have lost their lives in this disaster. There are many people who lost all their family members in this disaster. The dead also include small children, who along with their mothers had gone to a Shiva temple early in the morning on the last Monday of Sawan,” she added.
Ms. Vadra said more than 16,000 animals and birds have died in the State, including 10,000 poultry birds and more than 6,000 cows, buffaloes, and other domestic animals. Over 13,000 houses and buildings have been completely or partially damaged, large parts of the Shimla-Parwanoo national highway, and the Kullu-Manali-Leh highway have been completely damaged.
“Many roads in the state have been completely or partially damaged. The state has suffered a loss worth thousands of crores,” Ms. Vadra said.
Noting that the Congress government in the State is making every possible effort to deal with the devastation, she said at a time when the people of Himachal Pradesh are looking for help, the reduction in import duty on foreign apples by the Center will be an economic blow.
“In my understanding, farmers should not be dealt such a blow in this difficult time, rather if the farmers of Himachal get some kind of financial help from the central government, they will get relief… I appeal to you that this disaster should be declared a national disaster like the Kedarnath tragedy of 2013 and financial assistance should be provided to the victims and the state so that the brothers and sisters of Himachal get relief and the state can be properly rebuilt,” she said in her letter to Modi.
Earlier, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had estimated the losses at ₹12,000 crore and urged the Prime Minister to declare the calamity a national disaster.