Rain fury: Himachal seeks Rs.1,000 crore assistance

Shimla, June 24 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has sought Rs.1,000 crore central assistance for the damage caused by last week's heavy rain and snow that has killed 20 people, an official said here Monday.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the chief minister demanded immediate release of funds to speed up rescue operations, mainly in the remote Kinnaur district.

Official sources said the cumulative loss by the rains was around Rs.2,575 crore.

"As per initial reports, a loss of over Rs.1,500 crore has been reported from Kinnaur alone," a revenue official told IANS.

In Kinnaur, over 300 houses were damaged as per preliminary reports. The horticulture and agriculture sectors have also suffered due to the devastation, he said.

Residents said the crops of peas and wheat were completely damaged in Pooh area due to the untimely snow, the official said.

Brig S.K. Kataria, chief engineer, Project Deepak of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), last week apprised the chief minister of the damage caused to roads across Kinnaur.

According to Kataria, many breaches had occurred on national highway-22 between Wangtoo and Powari and landslides had hit nearly seven km stretches of roads in Kasang and Akpa.

The chief minister, in his missive to the prime minister, also demanded the BRO's director general to monitor the restoration of the main highway passing through Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts.

Sixteen of the 20 killed in the calamity were from Kinnaur, an official said.