Member highlights man-made factors like Forest Mismanagement, Unscientific Mining, and Riverbed Impact, leading to devastation
Shimla, Sept 19
Independent member from Dehra constituency Hoshiyar Singh today, raised concerns about the devastating impact of unscientific mining and the operation of numerous stone crushers on riverbeds. Singh accused political functionaries from both the ruling and opposition of owning these stone crushers, emphasizing the need for collective responsibility.
He suggested that the government should consider implementing a disaster tax on mining and quarrying activities to create a reserve fund for environmental degradation compensation. Singh also highlighted the importance of scientific mining on riverbeds to prevent flash floods and urged the government to develop an alternative policy rather than shutting down the stone crushers, which are essential for construction activities.
Additionally, Singh criticized the inadequate response of the reserve police force during times of tragedy, stressing the importance of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). He cited an incident where the Pong Dam released water without prior announcement, leading to flooding in the Fatehpur assembly constituency.
In response, Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu called for Singh to name the MLAs who owned stone crushers, insisting on substantiated claims. The Chief Minister discouraged dragging MLAs into discussions about the rain-related devastation without concrete evidence.
Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania clarified that Singh did not intend to blame any specific members for the devastation caused by stone crushers. He also stated that he would review the assembly’s record to expunge any remarks implicating MLAs.
Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri intervened to address the stranding of people near a stone crusher, stating that the administration was unaware of such employment practices but affirmed that NDRF promptly rescued the individuals.
Singh also highlighted other man-made reasons for the rain-related devastation, including the uprooting of Deodar trees and steep road cutting during construction. He emphasized the need for proper planning and land surveys for new construction projects in Shimla.
Singh proposed shifting Shimla’s offices to safer locations due to the town’s limited carrying capacity and warned of potential earthquake-related risks.
He recommended that the state request the Central government to waive public debt and mandated insurance coverage for every house. Singh called for increased grants for new house construction, asserting that houses could not be built with inadequate funding.
During the session, BJP member Randhir Sharma criticized the state government’s handling of the calamity, with differing opinions among ministers about the causes of the tragedy. PWD Minister Vikramaditya Singh blamed illegal mining, while Deputy CM Mukesh Agnihotri disputed his claims.
Meanwhile MLA Ramkumar, from Doon, attributed the devastation to unscientific mining, specifically mentioning damage to a bridge and houses due to rising water levels on riverbanks in his constituency.
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