To aid families affected by the incessant rains in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has allocated significant resources, unveiling a special relief package. This package includes a substantial increase in compensation, reaching up to 25 times the previous amounts. The state government has committed a total of Rs. 4500 crore to address the disaster. Out of this, Rs. 750 crore will be allocated for restoration and rehabilitation, and Rs. 1000 crore will support MNREGA initiatives.

During a press conference, Chief Minister Sukhu highlighted the changes in compensation. The compensation for a completely damaged house, previously at Rs. 1.30 lakh, has been raised five and a half times to Rs. 7 lakh. Approximately 3500 houses have suffered complete damage due to the disaster. Additionally, compensation for partial damage to ‘kutcha’ houses, previously at Rs. 4,000, has increased 25-fold to Rs. 1 lakh, while compensation for partial damage to ‘pucca’ houses has risen 15 and a half times, from Rs. 6500 to Rs. 1 lakh. The state has reported 6930 partially damaged kutcha houses and 5549 pucca houses.

Compensation for damage to shops or dhabas, initially Rs. 25,000, has quadrupled to Rs. 1 lakh. Financial assistance for damaged cowsheds has increased from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 50,000. Approximately 670 shops and dhabas and 8300 cowsheds have suffered damage. The state government will also provide assistance of Rs. 50,000 for damage or loss of tenants’ belongings, a 20-fold increase from the previous Rs. 2500. This assistance will benefit 1909 affected individuals.

Compensation for the loss of cattle head has increased to Rs. 55,000 per head. Earlier, the compensation was Rs. 37,500 for cows and buffaloes, Rs. 34,000 for horses and donkeys, and Rs. 20,000 for calves. Compensation for the death of a sheep or goat has also risen to Rs. 6000 from Rs. 4000.

The disaster has caused extensive damage to the agriculture and horticulture sectors. Compensation for damage to agricultural and horticultural land, formerly at Rs. 3615 per bigha, has surged to Rs. 10,000. Compensation for crop loss, previously Rs. 500 per bigha, has increased eightfold to Rs. 4000. Financial assistance for removing silt from agricultural and horticultural land has also increased from Rs. 1384.61 per bigha to Rs. 5000. The disaster has impacted 37,899 bighas of agricultural land, 17,947 bighas of horticulture land, and crops on 26,490 bighas. An additional 42 bighas of agricultural and horticultural land have been damaged due to silt.

The state government will provide two biswa of land in urban areas and three biswa in rural areas for the reconstruction of houses that have been completely damaged. Families with uninhabitable land will also be eligible for this support, without any income ceiling. Landless disaster-affected individuals who have lived in Himachal Pradesh for an extended period and wish to reside permanently will also receive land under this package.

Low-income group sanitation workers and migrant laborers whose houses have been completely damaged within municipal limits will be rehabilitated. Suitable land will be selected by the concerned District Magistrate and rehabilitated with the assistance of the Municipal Corporation.

The state government will cover the cost of providing electricity and water connections to under-construction houses for families whose houses have been completely destroyed. Cement will also be provided to these families at government rates for new house construction. The disaster’s impact on education has been significant, with educational institutions remaining closed for safety reasons during heavy rains. To compensate for the lost study time, additional classes will be organized.

The government has been providing assistance to the affected families from the outset. A relief amount of Rs. 750 crore has been disbursed to the districts under the NDRF and the SDRF for disaster relief and essential service restoration. An additional Rs. 829 crore has been released to the Public Works and Jal Shakti departments for reconstruction and restoration projects. Further funds amounting to Rs. 671 crore will soon be allocated to expedite these efforts.

Disaster-affected families residing in relief camps can move to rented accommodations. The state government will provide Rs. 5000 as rent payment for those in rural areas and Rs. 10,000 for those in urban areas for the next six months from its own resources. Additionally, essential provisions such as LPG cylinders, flour, rice, pulses, sugar, and cooking oil will be provided free of cost to these families until March 31, 2024.

Retaining walls and channelization of drains for houses belonging to disaster-affected families can be undertaken using the MLA Area Development Fund, which has allocated Rs. 2 crore 10 lakh for each assembly constituency in the current fiscal year. Any unspent amounts from the Sectoral decentralized planning program in all districts until March 31, 2023, can now be directed towards the construction of retaining walls and channelization of drains for affected houses.

As of August 18, 2023, the entire Himachal Pradesh has been declared a Natural Disaster Affected Area by the state government. Instructions have been issued to all banks in the state to provide relief by rescheduling loans for affected borrowers, excluding loans for agriculture and allied activities.

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