Centre should declare Sikkim, Himachal tragedies as national disasters: Kharge

New Delhi : While condoling the loss of lives in the Sikkim cloudburst and subsequent flash floods, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said that such tragedies, also including the recent rain-related calamities in Himachal Pradesh, should be declared as national disasters by the Centre.

In a lengthy post on X, Kharge said: :The situation in Sikkim is precarious as several people have lost their lives and many including our brave Army personnel are missing due to cloudburst and flash floods.

Our thoughts are with the people of Sikkim who are battling these distressing times.”

The Congress president went on to say that the Centre “must do everything possible to rescue people in safer locations and find the missing persons, whose count is reportedly steadily increasing”.

“A lot of damage has been done to the infrastructure, and the Union and the state governments must work together in the medium and long term to rebuild this beautiful state.”

He also said that the Congress and workers will provide help in “all possible ways in this humanitarian crisis”.

Drawing a similarity, Kharge said that the Centre “must recalibrate its strategy in dealing with ecologically fragile Himalayan states and must declare such tragedies, like Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh, as national disasters so that these states get adequate funds to rebuild themselves in a more sustainable manner”.

On Wednesday, the Defence PRO in Guwahati said that one soldier has been rescued so far while search and rescue operation by the Army continued for the remaining 22 soldiers who went missing after the sudden cloudburst over the Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim.

Release of water from the Chungthang dam led to further sudden increase in water level upto 15-20 feet high downstream, the Army spokesman said.

“Sudden increase in water level has led to Army vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam getting affected, ” he said.

The Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority has said that in Pakyong district, 59 people including 23 Army personnel have been reported missing, while at least five people were confirmed dead.

The National Disaster Response Force has deployed three teams in the affected areas and rescued many people.