U’Khand Assembly: Congress raises disaster-related issues; ruckus over Gairsain

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On the second day of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, a discussion on disaster-related issues was held under rule 58 (calling attention motion).

The Congress-led Opposition legislators on Wednesday raised matters related to natural disasters in the state, especially issues related to delays in compensation, and difficulties being faced by people in many areas for getting the damages and losses assessed by the officials.

Ahead of the start of the winter session, Assembly speaker Ritu Khanduri Bhushan held an all-party meeting on Tuesday and urged all legislators to raise issues of public interest in a peaceful and dignified manner in the House.

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Congress MLA Harish Singh Dhami while raising the issues related to disaster management and dealing with the damages to the bridges and other structures in his constituency Dharchula in Pithoragarh, claimed the kin of people killed in disasters have yet not received compensation even after over a year.

While the deputy leader of the opposition Bhuwan Kapri urged the government to increase the compensation amount being provided to the disaster-affected people, Congress MLA Vikram Singh Negi spoke about damage to the crops due to unseasonal rains and huge losses to the farmers.

Pointing out the issue of non-cleaning of the drains by the state’s municipal corporations, Congress MLA from Haldwani Sumit Hridayesh said this will lead to flooding in some areas and it needs to be addressed. “Early warning systems like those used in many countries should be set up in the state to avert major tragedies due to disasters”, he said.

Adesh Singh Chauhan, Congress MLA from Jaspur US Nagar, spoke about how a seasonal stream was leading to the caving in of the agricultural land. Anupama Rawat, Congress MLA from Hardwar rural raised the issue of “how disaster-affected people are facing difficulties in getting the losses assessed for compensation by the revenue officials.”

Urging the need for an increase in compensation to the disaster-affected people, Congress MLA Pritam Singh said Uttarakhand is a disaster-prone and every year many people incur huge losses. “The compensation being provided to disaster-affected people is very less and I urge the government to increase the same,” he said.

Responding to all the issues, state parliamentary affairs minister Premchand Aggarwal said the government is serious towards disaster-related matters and ‘does its best’ given the available resources in the state.

Stating that there is a provision of 1,600 crore in the state’s disaster funds for dealing with disaster-related issues. He said, “The state has formed a new rehabilitation policy for the disaster-affected people, according to which even families residing separately in the same house are considered for compensation separately.”

On early warning systems to be installed in disaster-affected areas, the minister said the state has written to the Central government on the issue on a regular basis. “As part of the disaster mitigation and preparedness, three doppler radars, 168 seismic sensors and 167 automatic weather stations have been set up across the state,” informed the minister.

Uttarakhand is prone to natural disasters. The state has reported over 7,700 extreme rainfall events, including landslides since 2015.

Experts point out that such geological and extreme weather events have been happening in the region for millions of years, but now due to the proximity of people to such events, the loss of life and property has increased and many changes have been aggravated by climate change.

Ruckus over Gairsain issue:

The assembly witnessed a ruckus with a heated exchange of words between Congress MLA Pritam Singh and cabinet minister Premchand Aggarwal over the Gairsain issue.

Singh alleged that despite declaring Gairsain as the summer capital of Uttarakhand in 2020, the state had not run the government from there even for a single day.

Responding to Singh, Aggarwal said the BJP government has always cared for Uttarakhand and its people. He said just as the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee helped in the creation of the separate state of Uttarakhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contributing towards the development of the state.

To this, Singh and other Congress MLAs objected to the statement and said it was the struggle of the common man and statehood revolutionaries and their sacrifices that contributed to the formation of the separate state of Uttarakhand in 2000.

Amid the ruckus, speaker Ritu Khanduri while asking to maintain the decorum of the House told both ruling and opposition legislators to raise the issue directly with her and not to engage in such conversation with each other personally.

Aggarwal then announced that the next session of the state assembly will be held in Gairsain.


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