With the beginning of the monsoon session of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the state BJP introduced a Stop Work motion on Monday, demanding discussion on the floods in the state. In response, Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania said that discussion regarding the disaster had already been included in the agenda of the House.
Therefore there “is no need for a new proposal to discuss this”. The Opposition began shouting slogans as Chief Sukhvinder Sukhu introduced a proposal for declaring the widespread destruction in the state as a “national disaster”, and eventually walked out of the House. Half an hour later, the Opposition returned to the House to participate in the discussion.
Chief Minister Sukhu said that the floods caused a direct loss of Rs 9,000 crore and an indirect loss of over Rs 12,000 crore. In addition, 441 people in the state lost their lives since June. “The livelihood sector was badly affected. Still, the opposition is not serious about the disaster and is making political gains,” the CM charged. Sukhu said, “Not a single penny was received from the Center to repair the National Highway.” The state had to pay Rs 10 crore to restore roads across the state. “Rs 2600 crore under PMGSY was delayed by the Center by three months,” Chief Minister Sukhu said, adding, “[The state government] will provide a special relief package from our side.”
This relief package is to be announced on 26 September. He said that Himachal would get “special relief” if the Center declared the situation in the state a national disaster. Responding to the Opposition’s allegations, the CM said that any officers responsible for misconduct or wrongdoing would face strict action. This was in response to Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur’s allegations that the allocation of relief funds had been based on nepotism. “The Opposition had earlier demanded the government call this session. Now that the session has been called, they are running away from the House,” CM Sukhu said. “The state will not benefit by running away from the discussion.”
After the Opposition returned to the House, LoP Thakur asked the ruling party what difference the declaration of a national disaster would achieve. “The central government is helping Himachal. The Center has already released two instalments of Rs 180 and 190 crore. We also want the Center to help Prior to the walkout, Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur said that a discussion was necessary since the floods were the worst disaster the state had seen in a century.
Before the proceedings began, Deputy CM Mukesh Agnihotri handed over a copy of the white paper to Chief Minister Sukhwinder Sukhu in the afternoon, which the Sukhu government might table during the session. The state government intends to introduce a white paper on the mismanagement of of finances by the former government.