In a rare show of strength, Virbhadra Singh, who is in his sixth stint as Chief Minister and his entire cabinet reached the doorstep of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this week.

They lobbied hard to get central projects and schemes, particularly dealing with infrastructure and connectivity, sanctioned, besides timely release of funds for relief and restoration in the state's flood-affected areas.

"To show urgency on the issue, Virbhadra Singh, who has been Chief Minister for over 16 years, for the first time in his political career took his entire cabinet to New Delhi," a senior minister said.

Virbhadra Singh's vast experience - in the state and Central Government - would definitely help in getting adequate central funding, the minister added. Manmohan Singh on Monday assured the delegation that the centre would release adequate funds to the state from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for calamity relief and restoration in the flood-affected areas.

"The state as a whole experienced heavy rainfall and 69 lives have been lost. And 11,157 houses, 4,519 roads and 2,763 water supply schemes have been badly damaged in the flash floods," the Chief Minister told Manmohan Singh.

Assuring all possible assistance from the centre, the Prime Minister said all the demands of the state government, like extension of an industrial package, special plan assistance and strengthening of the rail network will be considered positively by the Central Government in a time-bound manner.

Official sources said a day after meeting the prime minister, the Chief Minister and two of his cabinet colleagues - Kaul Singh and Mukesh Agnihotri - met Finance Minister P Chidambaram in Delhi and demanded that a railway project linking Chandigarh with Himachal Pradesh's prominent Baddi industrial hub be declare as one of national importance.

Official sources said that the state has sought a special financial package from the central government to overcome a whopping Rs 29,000 crore debt. The state is also seeking liberal funding for central-aided projects in the ratio of 90:10, like special category northeastern states are getting, an official said.


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