Owing to the stubborn monsoon trough, which is currently prevailing over the northern part of India, monsoon continues to wreak havoc on the picturesque Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh since June 24. Besides anthropogenic causes leading to significant shifts in the climate scenario of the Himalayan region, for the initial spells, the combined effect of southwest monsoon and western disturbances were held accountable for the record-breaking rainfall in the northern state.
Since the very onset of monsoon, a slew of rain-induced natural calamities including flash floods, cloudbursts, and landslides have disrupted the state’s normal rhythm of life. The weather department earlier predicted that the inclement weather would persist till August 28.
Three distinct spells of torrential rain and rain-related incidents so far have claimed hundreds of lives across the state while several are still missing. Landslides have caused buildings to collapse like houses of cards while flash floods swept the roads away. As per media reports, over seven hundred roads have been closed in the state due to heavy rains.
Considering the magnitude of the catastrophe, the Himachal Pradesh government on August 18 declared the massive damage caused by heavy rains as a state calamity.
Death toll mounting, properties damaged, roads blocked: Picture of a devastated Himachal Pradesh
Here’s a brief account of how the relentless monsoon mayhem has dismantled the state so far.
Official sources confirmed that since the beginning of the rainy season, 367 people have been killed, over 340 are injured and around 40 people are missing. The catastrophe has led to the destruction of over 12,000 houses, out of which 2,200 have been completely destroyed. As many as 729 roads are closed in the state and several areas were without electricity as 2,897 power transformers were damaged, Himachal Pradesh Revenue and Disaster Management Principal Secretary Onkar Chand Sharma said.
According to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the state has suffered losses of Rs 12,000 crore so far while the debt burden of the state has mounted to Rs 75,000 crore.
It has also been reported that the Public Works Department (PWD) alone has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 2,829 crores.
Flash floods, landslides, cloudbursts: A battered Himachal
So far, three massive landslides in the state have claimed over 50 lives alone while a fresh one in the Kullu region of Himachal led to the collapse of a row of buildings leaving hundreds of travellers stranded in relief camps as landslides blocked the road to Mandi.
Relentless heavy rains have also led to countless flash floods and cloudbursts in Himachal since July. From inundating roads and causing traffic disruption to entering people’s houses- the flood waters have caused extensive damage to properties.
In the latest development, over 50 people were stranded in Himachal’s Mandi as a massive cloudburst took place in Shehnu Gouni village which also triggered a landslide that blocked roads at several places.
Moreover, a heavy flow of water in the Balad River led to the collapse of the crucial Maranwala bridge in Baddi which connects the industrial area of Baddi and Pinjore.
Search and rescue operations in place: IAF, and NDRF deployed
In a bid to optimise the search and rescue operations across the state, several teams of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been stationed at the worst-affected districts. Their tireless efforts have successfully rescued thousands of people so far.
A team of NDRF travelled 15 km on foot in a bid to rescue the 50 stranded people, including 15 children, and shift them to safe places after the massive cloudburst in Mandi was reported yesterday.
In the flood-affected Kangra district, the IAF’s choppers conducted over 50 sorties in 48 hours and rescued over 780 citizens.
Following the swelling in river Beas on August 16, the IAF launched a massive evacuation drive and rescued over 1,500 people from the Mand area, which lies inside the Beas river bed.
Four days after a massive landslide hit Shimla’s Summer Hill area, the NDRF personnel retrieved 13 bodies.
Despite rigorous efforts by the disaster management authority, several hurdles are still placed in the track leading to restoration of normalcy in the state.