SHIMLA, Sept 12: Urging the Centre to rise above “party politics”, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi
Vadra Tuesday demanded that the recent calamity in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy monsoon rains
be declared a ‘national disaster’.
Gandhi, who visited rain-affected areas of Kullu district and reviewed relief and restoration works,
urged the Centre to rise above “party politics” without taking into consideration whether there is a
Congress or BJP government in the state, a statement issued here said.
Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains had wreaked havoc in Kullu and Mandi districts
on July 14 and 15.
During her Kullu visit, Gandhi lauded the spirit with which the people and state government are
facing the situation.
“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,” the statement quoted Gandhi as saying.
Even as the state government is doing far beyond its capacity by using its limited resources to
provide succour to the affected families, however, without the assistance of the Union government,
it is difficult to restore normalcy and complete renovation works besides providing aid to the people,
the leader added.
The Congress leader visited affected areas on her way to Manali from Kullu, including the Sangam
Bridge at Bhuntar which was damaged by the overflowing Beas river following heavy rains in July,
and interacted with the flood victims at the Aloo ground in Manali.
The farmers and horticulturists of the state have also 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 thereby causing losses to the horticulturalists, Gandhi said.
Gandhi, who arrived at the Bhuntar airport in Kullu this morning, earlier spoke with Congress
workers and local growers about apple production, transportation and rates of apple boxes offered
by the Adani group.
The centre has also reduced the import duty on the Washington apple, which will also directly affect
the horticulturalists of the State, thereby causing losses to them. The Central leadership should also
think about the benefits of the farmers and horticulturalists of the State, the statement said.
Gandhi was accompanied by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, State Congress chief, who is
also the sitting Congress MP from Mandi Parliament constituency, and Public Works Department
Minister Vikramaditya Singh.
The Congress leader will also visit Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts.
Himachal Pradesh has suffered losses of Rs 8,679 crore since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till
Over 260 people have died in rain-related incidents, according to the state emergency operation
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 Sukhu has pegged the losses at Rs 12,000 crore and urged Prime Minister Narendra
Modi to declare the calamity in Himachal Pradesh as a national disaster. (PTI)