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`Foreign hand’ in Sutlej floods?

Saturday 2 July 2005

Staff Correspondent

"The reasons are not always natural; it could be man-made"

UPA Government not taking up the issue with China Virbhadra Singh accused of being `insensitive’ `Himalayan Development Authority’ be revived

SHIMLA: The Bharatiya Janata Party Himachal unit president and Rajya Sabha member, Suresh Bhardwaj, created a flutter on Friday by charging that the main cause of regular floods in the Sutlej lay outside India.

Addressing media persons after returning from Kinnaur, the BJP leader said the floods had started only after a number of power projects were made on the Indian side of the Sutlej basin. There were no floods before 2000, he said.

The Pareechu river comes from China and the artificial lakes are also being formed there, he said. "The reasons are not always natural; it could be man-made."

Accusing the UPA government of slackness and not taking the issue with their Chinese counterparts in the past many years, he said the people in Kinnaur and Rampur were living under constant fear since the artificial dam had formed on the Pareechu.

He also charged that the government machinery had not entered a number of villages devastated by flash floods in Kinnaur. Accusing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of "insensitivity", he said "the Chief Minister is busy in conducting aerial surveys for his leaders who in turn do not give even a single penny to the flood-ravaged district".

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had toured the flood-hit areas earlier this week.

"The Chief Minister instead of taking stock of the flood situation is now lobbying in New Delhi for his men to get the PCC president’s post," said Mr. Bhardwaj.

The BJP MP, who announced a grant of Rs 6.5 lakhs to Rampur and Jagat Khana in Kullu district, suggested that all the MPs from the State contribute from their funds for the flood-hit areas.

He also pleaded that the initiative taken by the Vajpayee government in forming a "Himalayan Development Authority" for the Himalayan States bordering China be revived. "Otherwise a great devastation would be repeated every year in the region."

According to him, at least 900 tourists are still trapped in Kinnaur and the local population is suffering from paucity of food and medicine.

Meanwhile, an eight-member Central team headed by H.R. Singh, Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, visited the flood-hit areas of Kinnaur and Shimla district.

Meanwhile, the prestigious 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Power Project could not be started even on Friday as the silt level has increased. At 275091 ppm, it was much above the threshold level of 5000 ppm, said officials from the Control Room in Jhakri.

The water level in the Sutlej is much below the danger mark but keeps varying due to change in weather conditions and heavy rains, they said.

See online : The Hindu

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