National

HP Rains: Death Toll Climbs To 74

On Wednesday, workers at the Summer Hill landslide site retrieved the body of P L Sharma, head of the Mathematics department at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI.

Himachal Monsoon Rains
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The death toll in rain-battered Himachal Pradesh rose to 74 as another body was pulled out of the rubble of a Shiva temple here and two more people killed in Chamba district, officials said on Thursday.

Twenty-one of these deaths were in the three major landslides in Shimla alone --at the Shiva temple in Summer Hill and in Fagli and Krishnanagar.

Eight persons are still feared buried in the temple debris.

On Wednesday, workers at the Summer Hill landslide site retrieved the body of P L Sharma, head of the Mathematics department at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI.

Two rain-related deaths were reported in Chamba district where a person fell from a height and another drowned, taking the death count over the past four days to 74, according to the state emergency operation centre.

The state recorded heavy rains for three days, beginning Sunday. After Tuesday, there has been less rain. There were light showers at some places on Thursday.

Since the onset of the monsoon on June 24, 217 persons have died in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh.

Operations are on at the landslide sites in Shimla. So far, 14 bodies have been recovered from Summer Hill, five from Fagli and two from Krishnanagar, SP Gandhi said.

The Indian Army, Air Force and other rescue personnel evacuated 309 people from the flood-affected area in Kangra district's Fatehpur and Pong Dam in Indora.

Over the last three days, 2074 people have been evacuated from these areas.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Thursday visited the rain and flood-affected areas of Matehdi, Baldwara, Maseran and Jukain of Sarkaghat assembly segment of Mandi district and met people there.

He assured them all possible support from the government.

Principal Secretary (Revenue) Onkar Chand Sharma said the losses in the monsoon season have touched 7,500 crore.

Schools were closed in Shimla city on Thursday.

Officials said 875 roads remain blocked in the state, and 1,135 transformers and 285 water supply schemes disrupted.

In an interview with PTI, Sukhu has said the state will take a year to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by the heavy rains this monsoon. He estimated that the loss in the two devastating spells of heavy rains - this week and in July - is about Rs 10,000 crore.

The chief minister said it takes time to rebuild roads and water projects. But the government is speeding up the process. “We have to get the infrastructure fully restored within a year. I am working with this in mind”.

The state government on Thursday relaxed conditions for spending the MLA local area development fund.

The MLAs would now be able to use their fund of Rs 2.10 crore per year for projects like the construction of retaining walls and channelisation of nullahs.

Meanwhile, the Public Works Department Minister Vikramaditya Singh said the central government has approved Rs 2,643 crore for upgrading 254 roads in rural areas during the current financial year under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

-With PTI Input

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