Himachal celebrates I-Day solemnly amid calamity
Scaling down events owing to natural calamity, the state-level Independence Day function was held on Tuesday solemnly at the historic Ridge here that was presided over by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Shimla: Scaling down events owing to natural calamity, the state-level Independence Day function was held on Tuesday solemnly at the historic Ridge here that was presided over by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
The Chief Minister hoisted the national flag and took salute from the contingents of state police, Home Guards, NCC, NSS and Scouts and Guides.
Amid the calamity due to heavy rains, Independence Day programmes across the state were organised with simplicity, and with no cultural programmes.
While addressing the people, the Chief Minister said it was not the right time for the people of Himachal Pradesh to celebrate.
The incidents of cloudburst and landslides have occurred at many places.
Many houses have been buried under debris and people were facing many problems.
He said he was distressed to see the suffering of the people.
In the last 24 hours, 50 people have died in the state and more than 300 people have lost their lives since the onset of the monsoon.
He paid tributes to all those who have lost their lives in natural calamities.
He said the suffering of the people could not be compensated with money, but the government would provide all possible help to them in this hour of distress.
Sukhu said the government is working in solidarity on a war footing to get the state out of the crisis.
The Chief Minister said in view of the disaster the Independence Day program is being celebrated ceremonially.
According to the Chief Minister, this is the biggest disaster in the past 50 years as houses and roads have crumbled at many places.
The Chief Minister said the government has provided a sufficient budget to open all link roads up to the panchayat level and officers have been directed to restore all roads in a time-bound manner.
He said the state has suffered an estimated loss of more than Rs 10,000 crore and needs financial help from the Central government for relief and rehabilitation works.
He hoped that soon the Centre would release the first installment of interim relief to the state.
Sukhu announced to increase the honorarium given by the government to the freedom fighters from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 per month and also to increase the honorarium of widows of freedom fighters from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per month.
He also announced a 50 per cent increase in ex-gratia grant to the dependents of soldiers who were martyred or injured or went missing in war accidents during operations against enemy forces.
He said Rs 30 lakh would be given to the dependents of martyred soldiers in war or war-like circumstances.
Earlier, it was Rs 20 lakh. The Chief Minister said instead of Rs 5 lakh, Rs 7.50 lakh would be given to the next of kin of soldiers who lost their lives in non-operational areas or in operational areas where there is no war.
He said Rs 3.75 lakh would be given to the soldiers who got more than 50 per cent disability and Rs 1.50 lakh to the soldiers with less than 50 per cent disability during the army operation.
The Chief Minister also announced to increase the amount of financial assistance given under the Vidhva Punarvivah Yojana from Rs 65,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
He announced to increase the wages of MNREGA workers from Rs 224 to Rs 240 in general areas and from Rs 280 to Rs 294 in tribal areas.
This would benefit 9 lakh families working under MNREGA.
He said the orchardists have suffered a lot during the natural calamity.
He announced to increase the support price under Market Intervention Scheme for apple, mango and litchi this year.
He announced to increase the support price of apples from Rs 10.50 to Rs 12 a kg.