This Article is From Sep 13, 2023

"Congress Will Try To Raise Himachal Crisis In Special Session": Priyanka Gandhi

Ms Gandhi said the party will raise the demand for declaring the recent calamity in Himachal Pradesh a 'national disaster'.

'Congress Will Try To Raise Himachal Crisis In Special Session': Priyanka Gandhi

Priyanka Gandhi also met the families affected by the recent landslides in Shimla.


Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said Mandi MP Pratibha Singh would raise in the special session of Parliament the demand for declaring the recent calamity in Himachal Pradesh a 'national disaster'.

However, Priyanka Gandhi said she was not sure if Ms Singh, who is also the Himachal Congress chief, would be allowed to raise the demand during the session. The 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," the Congress general secretary told reporters during her visit to the Shiva temple site in Summer Hill. Twenty people were killed in the landslide at the Shiva temple on August 14.

Priyanka Gandhi also met the families affected by the landslide. Three landslides had claimed 27 lives in Shimla city with the Fagli and Krishnanagar killing five and two people respectively. 

The Congress leader also visited the Krishnanagar landslide site and met the displaced families. She said there are several issues like restoration of national highways which can be fixed only by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and declaring the destruction following heavy rains a national disaster would facilitate restoration works in the state.

"No one would like to do politics at this hour and everyone should come forward for 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.

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.

"The situation in Himachal Pradesh is very painful and the state has suffered huge losses. The Union government seems to be unable to understand the gravity of the situation in the state," she said, adding that big business houses were offering lower prices for the purchase of apple produce in Himachal.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, BJP state chief Rajiv Bindal said that Congress leaders are telling lies and asked where is the notification regarding a cut in import duty.

He said that the people of Himachal are still waiting for the guarantees announced by the Congress on the eve of 2022 assembly polls to be fulfilled. The women are asking for Rs 1,500 per month while youngsters are waiting for five lakh jobs.

Priyanka Gandhi, 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 due to heavy rains a 'national disaster'.

Many houses 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.

The Himachal BJP on Tuesday hit out at Priyanka Gandhi 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 caused extensive damage in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts in the months of July and August.

Since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 12, Himachal Pradesh has suffered losses of Rs 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 Singh Sukhu, who pegged the losses at Rs 12,000 crore, has already urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the calamity in the hill state a 'national disaster'. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)