Skip to main content

Himachal disaster: Seeking Central aid, NGOs ask Modi to reevaluate development model

Counterview Desk 

Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently declare the ongoing emergency situation in Himachal Pradesh as a national disaster / calamity of rare severity and provision for Central level assistance to the State, several NGOs and concerned citizens have said that heavy rainfall, floods and landslides has forced the State to struggle to mitigate the situation “without the required support from the Central government”.
Stating that the delay in Central aid is unfair for long term rehabilitation for a large number of families already displaced, their statement says, the State has insufficient funds to provide quick relief and rehabilitation of the people. At the same time, it adds, there should be “long-term thorough re-evaluation of development projects and policies in the Himalayan region” which are said to be reason behind the disaster.


We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations and affected people's organizations of Himachal Pradesh, urgently bring to your attention the grave and distressing situation currently unfolding in our state. We implore you to consider the immediate declaration of this situation as a "National Disaster / Calamity of Rare Severity" under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act of 2005. We base this request on the following critical points:
The Disaster Management Act 2005 defines a disaster as encompassing substantial loss of life, human suffering, damage to property, or degradation of the environment. The current situation meets all these conditions. (Presently, there exists no specific legal or executive criteria that allows for the declaration of a natural calamity as a national disaster. This was also noted in the Standing Committee report to the Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation). Nonetheless, the 10th Finance Commission after examining a similar proposal left the definition of "calamity of rare severity" open for case-by-case evaluation.
The State of Himachal Pradesh is currently grappling with an unprecedented disaster scenario. For the past one month, more than half of the population has been living under constant life threats due to heavy rainfall, floods, and landslides. The floods across Beas valley were the starting point of this large-scale disaster now unfolding across several districts of the state. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed partially or completely, hundreds of lives have been lost, and thousands of families have been forced to abandon their homes, seeking refuge in temporary shelters or with relatives. 
The situation is dire, with approximately 2000 roads severely damaged, and both government and private property suffering significant losses. Preliminary estimates suggest that the state is facing a staggering loss of more than Rs 10,000 crore, which is unprecedented. In the face of this calamity of rare severity, the state of Himachal Pradesh is struggling to mitigate the situation without the required support from the Central Government, which might lead to delay in instant aid and unfairness in long term rehabilitation for a large number of families. In this scenario SDRF funds would not be sufficient to provide quick relief and rehabilitation for people of our state.
Taking cues from the stance of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which released only a meagre funds to assist various states affected by floods, landslide and cloudburst disaster during 2022, we believe that the intensity and magnitude of disasters in Himachal have far surpassed the State Government’s capacity; and that funds for relief and rehabilitation in the current situation at SDRF level are nearly 5% of the total loss thus there is urgent need to transfer 100% funds (Rs. 10000 crore) of total damaged assessed by the state government directly from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) immediately, and if required from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF), which would be more appropriate and urgently needed in this grave hour.
Therefore, we strongly request
i) Immediate and adequate assistance, both in terms of funds and other resources, from the Central Government to support the State's efforts in recovery and reconstruction in the aftermath of this catastrophe
ii) Assistance to the state for a full and complete assessment of public, commons and private loss and damages and issue directions for rehabilitation of impacted communities with priority to those who have been rendered landless and shelter less.
iii) To immediately give appropriate directions to concerns that, disaster risk assessment is mandatory for all developmental activities based on Disaster Risk Zonation Maps made by the SDMA.
iv) Long-term thorough re-evaluation of development projects and policies in the Himalayan region as serious lessons to be taken for future activities. From the perspective of Himalayan communities, this approach can help emphasize the critical nature of the current developmental challenges in Himachal Pradesh and advocate for a more resilient and sustainable path forward.
We earnestly hope that you will consider our urgent request and take the necessary measures to alleviate the ongoing crisis in our beautiful state.
Click here for signatories 



Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anonymous? Following BJP debacle, social media began getting memes calling voters 'traitors'

By Rathin Das*  It was an election with a difference that taught the 'party with a difference' a lesson it will never forget. The planet's largest party, the BJP, had put its stakes so high that even a normal victory looks like a defeat.