Himachal Pradesh: CM Sukhu Blames 'Bihari Architects' For Structural Flaws, BJP And AAP Criticise Choice Of Words

Since Sunday, at least 74 people have died in Himachal Pradesh in landslides and cloudbursts. The toll is expected to rise as people are still feared to be trapped in the debris.

Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu pictured here in the state assembly

After Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu blamed the flaws in the design on "Bihari architects", the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) criticised him and said he should not pass the blame. 

As Himachal witnesses unprecedented death and destruction from heavy rain and rain-related incidents, Sukhu has turned to structural flaws in buildings and designs of roads and other structures. 

Sukhu in an interview said that masons come to Himachal from outside and they do designing very quickly without understanding things. He called such masons "Bihari architects". Following the comment, AAP leader and spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang called it "irresponsible" and BJP's senior state leader Suresh Bhardwaj said the chief minister should focus on relief and devising a scientific process to improve the situation, not blame the workers. 

In the interview with The Indian Express, Sukhu had said in Hindi: "People bring in Bihari architects...There are no local masons. They come here in a jiffy and pay no heed to structural designing, build lanter after lanter. I have been raising this point since the assembly session. I call them Bihari architects. We think a lanter being put means a home has been built."

Sukhu made the comment when he was speaking on collapsed houses, saying that houses that have collapsed would not have passed structural norms. 

Reacting to Sukhu's comment, BJP's Bhardwaj, a former state Urban Development Minister, said, “I came across the CM’s statement about ‘Bihari architects’. When the state is reeling under a disaster, we can’t fault labourers, mistris. They are here to earn a livelihood. Instead of blaming others, especially the poor, the CM should focus on relief work and devise a mechanism for more scientific development."

AAP's King called the statement "irresponsible" and condemned it. 

“AAP as a party condemns this statement, which shows the Congress mentality of dividing the country. We are all Indians first. If the structural guidelines are being violated, it’s the failure of the government; how can you blame such a hardworking community,” said Kang, as per The Express. 

A day later, however, Sukhu appeared to distance himself from his own comment. He told ANI, "I did not say anything as such. The people of Bihar were also stuck here. I got them evacuated by helicopters. Around 200 people from Bihar are still stuck here. They are like our brothers. It is the fault of our structural engineering, they are just labourers."

Since Sunday, at least 74 people have died in Himachal in landslides and cloudbursts. Of the 74 deaths, 21 have been reported from three landslides in Shimla alone and the toll is expected to rise as people are still feared to be trapped in the debris.