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Declare Himachal calamity a national disaster: Cong to Centre

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday demanded that the central government announce a Rs 10,000 crore special package for Himachal Pradesh and declare the devastation there due to rains as a ‘national disaster’.

Congress leader and in-charge for Himachal Pradesh, Rajeev Shukla also urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to allow all MPs, in both the Houses of Parliament, to provide relief to the hill state out of the MP Local Area Development Fund.

Terming the crisis in the state as unprecedented, he said the northern state is not getting the national attention required as it has never suffered so much devastation in its history.

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So far, 330 people have died and 35 are missing, while 12,000 houses have been destroyed, he said.

“The state has incurred a loss of Rs 13,000 crore. Highways have been swept away. The entire Himachal — upper and lower reaches — has suffered due to heavy rainfall,” Shukla told reporters.

As many as 75,000 tourists were stranded and 17,000 cars were safely taken out in 48 hours by the state government, he said, adding that rains hit the hill state between July 7 to 15, then from August 10 to 14, and now again.

“We demand that the central government should declare the devastation caused in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy rains as a national calamity and provide it a special package on the lines provided to Uttarakhand.

“We are demanding a package of Rs 10,000 crore. Nothing will happen with the Rs 200 crore announced so far by the Centre,” the Congress leader said.

“I urge both the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairman to allow the MPs to give donations to the Himachal Pradesh government out of their MP Development Fund,” he said.

Several foreign tourists come to the state and infrastructure should be revamped soon to help the state restore its lost assets, he noted.

The governments of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Haryana have provided assistance to Himachal Pradesh, and other states should follow suit, he urged.

Noting that it is an unprecedented situation as it has never happened in the history of Himchal Pradesh, the Congress MP said two central teams have already visited the state and made an assessment of the damage.

“We urge the prime minister and the home minister to come to the aid of the Himachal government by providing a special package to the state,” he said, adding that Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu has already visited Delhi and met the duo.

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