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.

Text:

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 

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

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. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.