Rise above ‘party politics’, declare HP calamity a ‘national disaster’: Priyanka to Centre
Priyanka Gandhi, who visited rain-affected areas of Kullu district and reviewed relief works, a statement said
Urging the Centre to rise above “party politics”, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday demanded that the 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 works, a statement said. Chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, public works department minister Vikramaditya Singh and state Congress chief Pratibha Singh accompanied Gandhi.
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 physical labour to open roads blocked by landslides,” the statement quoted Gandhi as saying.
The state has suffered losses of ₹8,679 crore since the onset of monsoon on June 24 till September 11. Over 260 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.
Even as the state government is doing far beyond its capacity with its limited resources, it is difficult to restore normalcy without the assistance of the Union government, Gandhi 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, spoke with Congress workers and local growers about apple production, transportation and rates of apple boxes offered by the Adani group.
The Congress leader will also visit Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts.
Slams Centre for reducing import duty on US apples
During the visit, the Congress leader slammed the Union government for reducing the import duty on US apples from 35% to 15%.
Gandhi said that the decision would adversely hit the apple growers of Himachal and is an injustice to them. She said that this would put the apples grown in the state at a disadvantage by bringing down the prices of imported fruit.