Amritsar: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu on Tuesday urged resolution of issues related to the interests of his state with its neighbours.
He also demanded a special relief package to the disaster-affected state after the heavy rains that triggered floods and landslides and caused a loss of nearly Rs 12,000 crore and loss of 450 lives.
In his address at the 31st meeting of the Northern Zonal Council meeting here chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Sukhu said the government was trying to recover from one of the worst destructive episodes ever witnessed in which 13,000 houses were completely damaged.
The state government, with the help of the people, started relief and rescue operations and has now taken up a task of rehabilitating the homeless.
“We have created Disaster Relief Fund 2023,” he said.
The Chief Minister stressed the needs for amendment in the prevailing norms of disaster relief fund at the national and the state level as these were currently affecting the reconstruction and rehabilitation process.
The formula for providing compensation packages for hilly states like Himachal having tough topography should be amended. The parameters of providing financial assistance during disasters should be on a higher side and demanded practical amendments in these norms, said Sukhu.
The Chief Minister thanked the governments of Haryana and Rajasthan for extending financial assistance for carrying out relief and rehabilitation works.
He also sought cooperation from the Punjab government in handing over the 100 MW Shanan hydroelectric project as its lease will expire in March 2024. A request has also been made to the Central government in this regard, he said, as per an official statement said.
Sukhu said 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 in view of Himachal’s 7.19 per cent 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 per cent free energy royalty to Himachal in BBMB projects. He also advocated for increasing the royalty from existing 12 per cent to 30 per cent in the hydropower projects of central undertakings i.e. the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam ltd (SJVNL).
He also urged to release the outstanding Rs 4,000 crore from the BBMB as per the decision of the Supreme Court.
He stressed upon the need to use 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 the sudden release of huge amount of water from the Pong and Pandoh dams and Parvati-III reservoir caused widespread devastation even in adjoining states.
The Chief Minister said it was the moral responsibility of the management of hydel projects to compensate for this loss and ensure voluntary participation in rehabilitation works.
In the meeting, he also demanded resolution of the border disputes with Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. He said the 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 “needs to be resolved at the earliest”.
He said the state 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.