More than 161 people have lost their lives during the past two and half months, and property worth Rs 600 crore has been damaged due to torrential rains, cloud-bursts, flash floods and landslides throwing life completely out of gear in Himachal Pradesh.
The state disaster management cell has reported disruption in half a dozen National Highways, 300 link roads, 4,440 drinking water and irrigation schemes. Further, several houses in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Hamirpur and Kinnaur have suffered massive losses.
Kullu district, which is prone to cloud bursts, have recorded two such incidents three days back while Cholling village in Kinnaur has reported one incident. The district officials informed that cloud bursts caused huge flash floods, washing away roads, bridges and caused huge destruction to public and private properties, crops and link roads.
Landslides induced by heavy rains have disrupted road communication to several areas in Kullu. Landslides on the Chandigarh –Manali National Highway and Mandi-Pathankot NH left hundreds of people stranded on the roads for hours till the road clearance work resumed to restore traffic.
“The metrological department had issued a yellow alert predicting heavy rains, landslides and flash floods. We have even advised people and tourists to avoid travelling unless it’s very urgent. They should also be careful about falling trees,” Says Dr Manmohan Singh, Director, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Shimla station.
Of total deaths reported since June, 91 people have died in road accidents, nine due to drowning, and seven in landslides and three each by lightning and house collapse.
Principal Secretary (Disaster Management), Onkar Sharma said the Deputy Commissioners have been advised to ensure that affected people get immediate relief as many had already lost their means of livelihood during the COVID lockdown. They should not further suffer from natural calamities, he said.
“The National Highways and road connectivity also need to be restored for smooth mobility of people and goods. The apple area roads’ clearance work should not wait as this will put the farmers in greater losses and hit the apple marketing," Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told Deputy Commissioners.
Reports are also pouring in about several deaths due to snake bites in districts of Una, Kangra and Hamirpur after the rains.
Even as monsoon rains continue to hit the state, there have also been reports of snowfall at Rohtang Pass ( 13,059 feet)—which connects Lahaul-Spiti and Leh via Manali. Snowfall was also reported at high mountains of Keylong and Kinnaur districts .
All eyes are currently at Atal Rohtang Tunnel, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate on September 29. CM Thakur is flying to Manali on Saturday to undertake a review of the tunnel completion work.