Disaster hit HP to seek additional money from PM Relief Fund

Health and revenue minister, Kaul Singh Thakur on Thursday informed the state assembly that Himachal government would take up with centre to provide additional relief to the state from Prime Minister’s Relief Fund on lines of Uttrakhand.

Replying to a question on damage to life and property due to rains in Himachal Pradesh during question hour, the revenue minister said that the state government was trying its best to provide relief and succour to victims within available resources.

He said that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to expedite the release of Rs. 1972.08 crores based on the damage estimates sent by the state government to centre so that restoration and relief works could be taken up fast.

“There was much damage in Uttrakhand, but somehow, the figures of relief released by the centre to victims have been exaggerated in media,” he said.

Mr.Thakur said that the total death toll due to rains in HP had risen to 64 as of late and the total losses to the state have been Rs. 2934.005 crores. He said as many as 9812 buildings have got damaged, 24,390 animals died and four persons were missing. Maximum damage was reported from tribal Kinnaur where 23 persons had died, 22983 animals were killed and 2654 buildings were damaged.

The minister said that the central government had provided Rs. 68.12 crores relief money to Himachal in the first installment on 31st July, 2013 and another installment of around Rs. 69 crores was due for release to the state. He said the state government had released Rs. 129.24 crores in all for the relief works.

“Out of this, Rs. 57.57 crores have been disbursed to different districts based on the damage assessment. Rs. 25.0950 crores were provided to Kinnaur district alone as it had maximum damage, followed by Rs. 5 crores to Mandi and Rs. 4.95 crores to Shimla,” he said.

He said the government released Rs. 71.67 crores to different departments that suffered losses due to heavy rain. This includes Rs. 30.55 crores for Public Works Department that suffered on account of damage to roads and machinery, followed by Rs. 14.78 crores to the Irrigation and Public Health department.

Raising the issue, senior Bharatiya Janata Party member from Jogindernagar, Gulab Singh said that there was a difference in the relief being distributed to victims in Uttarkhand and Himachal. “In Uttrakhand, the relief in case of death, handicap and damage to house is on the higher side, but in Himachal Pradesh it is less. The state needs to review its relief manual and take up with the centre to give additional relief to the victims here also,” he said.

In his supplementary, BJP member from Dehra Ravinder Singh Ravi pointed out that there were many schemes for providing money to poor people for housing. However, he said, the state government, of late has been providing the relief money to the victims belonging to the Scheduled Caste category only. “The general category is not being considered. When I checked up, the district authorities said there was a notification in this regard,” he said.

Leader of opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal said nobody had any objections that Scheduled Castes should be given the money, but the government must compensate the victims from the general category also who lost their houses in rains.

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