Shimla – Himachal Pradesh has recently become the battleground for intense political accusations. The state is no stranger to political disputes, but the ongoing tussle over disaster relief claims has brought a new dimension to the political landscape in the region.
The heart of the matter lies in the delay and alleged obstruction of the release of Rs 4950 crore in disaster claims by the Government of India (GoI). The Himachal Pradesh State Government had initially submitted a claim note of Rs 6746 crore for disaster-related losses in August 2023, followed by a revised claim note of Rs 9900 crore in October 2023.
However, the claims have not been swiftly processed, leading to accusations from state leaders. Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri and Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi have squarely pointed the finger at the Himachal Pradesh BJP, holding them responsible for the delay. According to the state leaders, the Central Government has withheld the funds due to the alleged manipulation and interference by the state’s BJP leaders, who have been accused of prioritizing political gain over disaster relief.
Agnihotri and Negi assert that Rs 4950 crore, which is 50 percent of the total claim, rightfully belongs to the state. They emphasize the urgency of the GoI releasing these funds to expedite vital rehabilitation efforts. The leaders are deeply disappointed that the GoI has not released any portion of the claim, despite three assessment teams visiting the state to evaluate the damage caused by floods and heavy rains.
One crucial point that state leaders emphasize is that disaster claims are not subject to political considerations and should be allocated solely based on the extent of damage and the needs of the affected region. However, they contend that the Himachal BJP leaders have chosen to engage in obstructionist tactics, hindering the timely release of the much-needed relief.
Moreover, there are allegations that the Central Government has been urging the state to cease collecting water cess from power companies, suggesting further complications in providing financial support during this natural calamity. This, according to state leaders, underscores the lack of commitment from the Himachal BJP leaders and the Union Government to the welfare of the state’s residents.
The ongoing political acrimony does not bode well for Himachal Pradesh, as the state is grappling with the aftermath of a natural disaster and desperately needs financial support to facilitate recovery.