Shimla: Himachal CM, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari today jointly assessed the disaster that ravaged Kullu. Both the leaders visited the flood hit areas including Bada Bhuiyan, Deodhar, Shirad, Klath, and Aloo Ground Manali and interacted with the people affected by the calamity besides seeking insights into their concerns during this challenging time.
The Chief Minister while addressing the press conference said that it was for the first time in the history of Himachal that a disaster of such high magnitude struck the State. As the resources of the State were limited, the Union Government must extend help to Himachal generously at the earliest to aid relief and restoration efforts. The torrential rains from 7th to 11th July this year caused extensive damage to roads and bridges at numerous places in the State, besides public and individual property. The Union Minister Nitin Gadkari quickly accepted my invitation to visit Himachal Pradesh, for which I am grateful to him, said Sh. Sukhu.
The Chief Minister also appealed to the Leader of Opposition, Jai Ram Thakur to extend his wholehearted support in the hour of crisis and stand jointly to address the needs of the people.
Talking to the media, Sh. Gadkari assured that the Central Government will extend all possible help to the affected. He said that people have suffered immensely and the situation was even worse than they would have imagined otherwise. There has been unprecedented damage to the roads, bridges and private property due to flash floods, landslides and cloudbursts triggered by heavy rains. He said that Rs. 400 crore will be released by the Union Government under Central Road & Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), so that repair and restoration works can be undertaken on war footing. The NHAI will also bear the cost of repairing the link roads up to one kilometer along the National Highways in apple belts, he added.
He said that the huge portions of National Highways and other roads have been swept by the furious flow of the river and a technical team has been constituted to study probable causes and take measures to prevent such occurrences in the future. The team will visit the flood hit areas in three to four days to assess and take stock of the situation. He said that due to the accumulation of muck in the river bed, the river changed its course. Adaptive measures will be taken to construct a concrete wall or channelize river beds wherever required.
He also sought cooperation of State Government in this direction. He said that the Union Ministry will bear whatever money is to be incurred on the repair and restoration of roads under NHAI. He also stated that falling stones and boulders from the mountains was rather common in hilly regions, always posing threat to the commuters and to address the issue a comprehensive study would be conducted and thereafter recommendations would be shared with the State Government.
Nitin Gadkari said that 68 tunnels were being constructed in Himachal Pradesh to cost Rs. 12,500 Crore. The repair work of Kiratpur-Manali four-lane will also be completed in the coming two to three months and will be inaugurated soon. A sum of Rs. 250 crore has been sanctioned for Bijli Mahadev Ropeway, the construction of which will commence soon. He said that approval has been given to Shahpur-Sihunta road to be built with an outlay of Rs. 52 crores under CRIF and Rangas-Mehre via Bagchal road would also be constructed incurring an expenditure Rs. 49 crores.
Public Works Minister, Vikramaditya Singh, Leader of Opposition, Jairam Thakur, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Sunder Singh Thakur, MLAs, Ravi Thakur, Bhuvaneshwar Gaur, Arun Shourie, Lokender Kumar, Vinod Kumar, Puran Chand Thakur, Deputy Commissioner, Ashutosh Garg and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion amongst other.