Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu underlined the need for bringing about an amendment to the norms for providing relief packages for hilly states.
At the 31st meeting of the Northern Zonal Council, Chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at Amritsar on Tuesday, Sukhu also called for immediately resolution of various issues of Himachal with its neighboring states.
The chief minister demanded a special relief package for the disaster-affected Himachal Pradesh in the wake of rain fury that triggered floods and landslides, causing a loss of nearly Rs. 12000 crore in addition to the loss of 450 precious human lives.
He said that the government was trying to recover from one of the worst natural calamities ever witnessed in which as many as 13,000 houses were completely damaged.
“The state government with the help of the people of the state, immediately started relief and rescue operations during the disaster and now has taken up a task of rehabilitating the homeless. We have created Disaster Relief Fund-2023 for the same,” he said.
The chief minister stressed the amendment in the prevailing norms of disaster relief funds at the national and state level.
“These norms were currently affecting the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. The formula for providing compensation packages for hilly states like Himachal which have tough topography should be amended. The parameters of providing financial assistance during disasters should be on the higher side,” he said and demanded practical amendments in these norms.
The Chief Minister thanked the governments of Haryana and Rajasthan for extending financial assistance for carrying out relief and rehabilitation works.
The Chief Minister also sought cooperation from the Punjab Government in handing over the 100 MW Shanan Hydroelectric project, as its lease period will expire in March 2024.
A request has also been made to the Central Government in this regard, he added.
“Himachal has always made its full contribution in Nation building and the people of the state had to suffer due to the construction of hydro power projects,” he said, adding that in view of Himachal’s 7.19 percent share in the projects of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), there should be a regular full-time member in the BBMB Board of Directors.
The Chief Minister urged for providing 12 percent free energy royalty to Himachal in BBMB projects.
He also advocated for increasing the royalty from the existing 12 percent to 30 percent in the hydropower projects of central undertakings namely National Hydro Power Corporation, (NHPC) National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), and Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL).
He also urged to get released the outstanding amount of Rs 4000 crore from BBMB as per the decision of the Supreme Court of India.
He stressed the need to use an early warning system and get inundation mapping done before releasing water by reservoirs in the state.
“It was seen that during the recent disaster in the state, sudden release of huge amount of water from Pong Dam, Pandoh Dam, and Parvati-3 reservoir caused widespread devastation even in the adjoining states,” he said, adding that it was the moral responsibility of the management of Hydel Projects to compensate for this loss and ensure voluntary participation in rehabilitation works.
The Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu also demanded to resolve the border disputes with Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
He said that border disputes at Mohal Theka Dhar Padhri in Chamba district and Jammu and Kashmir and the Sarchu border dispute between Himachal and Ladakh were long pending and need to be resolved at the earliest.
Sukhu said that the Himachal government has done concrete work on the decisions taken in the last meeting of the council.
The Chief Minister expressed hope that the Council meeting will further strengthen the mutual coordination and cooperation of the member states and promote economic and social empowerment.