Dehradun: Seeking liberal funding from the Centre to address the situation in calamity-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Harish Rawat has demanded an additional assistance of Rs 4,000 crore for carrying out the third phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rawat has said the task of reconstructing the infrastructure and rehabilitating the affected population was enormous and impossible to achieve without liberal funding from the Centre, an official release said here today.
“It is therefore requested that an additional grant of Rs 4000 crore be sanctioned to the state for prompt, speedy, environment-friendly reconstruction and restoration work in the state and for reviving its economy,” the Chief Minister said in the letter, a copy of which was circulated to the press here.
In the 11-page letter, Rawat also spoke of the huge blow dealt by the unprecedented tragedy to tourism which is central to the state's economy and the massive evacuation and reconstruction exercise undertaken by the state government in tandem with the military and paramilitary forces.
A vast network of roads and bridges have to be rebuilt and over 200 villages need to be rehabilitated to put life back on track in the affected areas, he said adding that the mission cannot be accomplished without a generous helping hand from the Centre.
“We face the uphill task of rehabilitating more than 200 villages. The task becomes all the more difficult given the fact that 65 per cent of our land is classified as forest land which cannot be diverted to non-forest use.
We do not have revenue land either. The forest land would therefore be needed for rehabilitation purposes,” Rawat said. Demanding that all land transfer issues be fast-tracked to speed up the rehabilitation process, the Chief Minister said the state government will be obliged if the power of transferring such land is delegated to it.
“Though the ‘chaar dham yatra' route has been restored to a large extent and the annual pilgrimage to the four Himalayan shrines is going on smoothly this year, so much more still needs to be done to help things get back to normal along the pilgrimage route which suffered massive devastation,” Rawat said.
“Realising the plan of redeveloping Kedarnath, as also other parts of the state in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner, reviving the economy of the state and restoring the confidence of tourists and pilgrims will require massive investment,” he said.
Acquainting the Prime Minister of steps taken by the state government in the wake of the calamity, the chief minister said it is according high priority to all disaster management related works.
“A number of studies are being undertaken to assess the risk of various disasters so as to formulate policies which are locally relevant to ward off threat of various hazards. “The warning generation and dissemination capabilities are also being augmented and for this the state government is holding regular consultations with relevant agencies,” he said.
He also apprised him of the state government's plans to build over 50 helipads in high-altitude areas so that there is no problem in evacuating people to safety in times of crisis.
Thanking Modi for showing his concern for the people of Uttarakhand by visiting the state soon after the calamity last year and generously offering a helping hand, the chief minister asked him to visit the state again, saying it would be a great pleasure for him if the third phase of reconstruction exercise in the state is launched in the PM's presence.
Recuperating at AIIMS after a neck injury for over a fortnight now, Rawat has been writing to Union ministers on a regular basis to apprise them with the problems faced by the state and suggesting them ways to overcome them.
He wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, demanding a green bonus of Rs 2000 crore for Uttarakhand in recognition of its vast green cover and steps taken by the state towards environment conservation.
He had also written to Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda earlier demanding expansion of the railway network in Uttarakhand in view of the strategic importance of the state which shares borders with China and Nepal and augmentation of passenger facilities in premier trains bound for the state.