Shimla: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh being rescued from Sangla in Kinnaur, yesterday, and flying in a private helicopter to address an election rally in Mandi from where Pratibha Singh, wife of the chief minister is the candidate, has attracted sharp criticism from opposition BJP, saying that residents in a disaster struck zone have been left at the mercy of the elements at a time when they need government intervention the most.
Talking to reporters today BJP spokesman Ganesh Dutt said, “this is how the Congress government treats the people. At a time when the government machinery should have been geared to tackle the natural disaster that has befallen the people of Kinnaur, the chief minister, after being stranded for three days in Sangla valley and experiencing firsthand the catastrophe that has struck the region, on being rescued, heads straight to address an election rally.”
The entire rescue and relief operation in Kinnaur district, where rain and snow have wrecked havoc, should be handed over to the army for the state government is not serious about tackling the natural calamity, he said.
Polling for Mandi parliamentary bye-election are to be held on 23 June and electioneering is peaking in the constituency. Pratibha Singh, a former MP, is pitched against Jai Ram Thakur, a former state BJP president contesting his first parliamentary election.
Meanwhile, information minister Mukesh Agnihotri stated that the chief minister had convened a meeting for tomorrow at Mandi to ascertain the losses caused due to incessant rainfall, landslips and snow in Himachal Pradesh, particularly in the tribal district of Kinnaur which has suffered heavy loss of life and property.
Chief secretary Sudripta Roy in a separate release stated that as many as 500 people, mainly tourists, were still stranded in different parts of Kinnaur.
In all 278 people have been rescued by helicopter from the disaster hit region of whom 69 were air lifted today, said Roy.
He said that till date 14 deaths had been reported, 150 houses had been fully damaged and 55 more suffered part damages.
The government has released Rs 10 crore for carrying out relief and rescue operations, said the chief secretary.