Nature’s Wrath: Heavy rainfall brings Himachal Pradesh to standstill”
Shimla, July 10
Continuing heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh has led to the complete disruption of mainstream life in the state. Air, rail, and terrestrial transportation have all been severely affected, with major roads like Hindustan Tibet NH-5 between Ambala and Korik, and Chandigarh-Manali-Leh NH-3, experiencing significant damage.
The death toll in the state has risen to 55, and several people are reported missing, feared drowned, washed away, or buried in landslides. The state government is facing significant challenges as the relentless rain and inclement weather hamper relief and rescue operations.
Flash floods, landslides, and heavy boulders have disrupted the major road networks, national highways, railways, air services, water supply, and power services. The extremely poor road conditions, along with flooding and waterlogging, are hindering efforts to reach victims of the natural calamities.
Reports from Kinnaur indicate that despite relatively less rainfall in the tribal district, road communication between Shimla and Kinnaur has been severed due to the closure of Hindustan Tibet National Highway.
The condition of National Highway No. 05, connecting Shimla and Kinnaur, and National Highway 305, linking Luhri, Aani, and Banjar, is not suitable for safe traffic. The National Highway Authority has deployed heavy machinery to restore the roads.
KL Suman, Executive Engineer of the National Highway Authority, stated that the Shimla-Kinnaur National Highway is blocked at multiple locations, and the condition of the Ani Banjar NH is also dire.
The district administrations of Shimla, Kullu, and Kinnaur have warned people and migrant workers to stay away from the swollen Satluj and Beas rivers. In addition to flash floods and incessant rainfall, water discharge from dams for desilting hydroprojects is posing further risks.
The Sutlej River, swollen due to the heavy rains, also threatens houses built along its banks. People residing on the riverbank are living in fear and staying awake throughout the night.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is working to evacuate stranded tourists and migrant workers on the banks of the overflowing Satluj and Beas rivers. On Sunday, NDRF rescued nine individuals in Kullu, and six were rescued in the Nagwayin area of Mandi district. The rescued individuals include Ajay Sharma, Arun Sharma, and Manish Sharma from Sambha area of Jammu, as well as Anuj, Vishnu, and Roshan Lal from Assam.
The Kalka-Shimla Railway line, which usually remains open during inclement weather, has suspended all train services after a rail car derailed on Saturday evening.
Due to incessant rainfall, thick fog, and poor visibility, the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), airlines, and railways have suspended long-route services. The picking of tomatoes and apples by growers, as well as transportation services, have also been severely hampered in the state.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmaur, Una, Bilaspur, Solan, and Hamirpur districts, forecasting moderate to heavy rain and thundershowers in most places, with extremely heavy rainfall expected at one or two locations.
In some areas, heavy rainfall has been ongoing for the past three days, with the Meteorological Office recording about 300 to 350 mm of rainfall in the last 72 hours.
Due to mudslides and landslides caused by water damage, dozens of houses have been affected, resulting in the loss of six lives in the past 24 hours. Eight to ten families residing in low-lying areas, such as Kumersein and Shimla town, Pandoh town in Mandi, Bhuntar and Manikaran in Kullu, and Baddi and Kasauli in Solan district, have been forced to relocate to safer places.
The floodwaters are expected to cause havoc in the catchment areas of Haryana, Punjab, the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, and Rajasthan, as all major rivers are flowing above the danger mark and water dams are opening their floodgates.
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