Himachal Pradesh Floods: 338 Rain-Related Deaths Recorded So Far As MeT Sounds Orange Alert For Next 2 Days

New Delhi: At least 338 people have died in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh so far even as the local MeT office sounded an orange alert for the next two days in the hill state. On Saturday, the death toll in rain-related incidents over the past week rose to 78 as another body was recovered by rescuers from the debris of a collapse temple in Shimla, officials said.

The deceased has been identified as Eish Sharma (28). The body of his father P L Sharma, who was the chairman of the mathematics department at Himachal Pradesh University, was recovered on Thursday, the officials added.

Of the 78 deaths since Sunday night, 24 were in the three major landslides in Shimla alone — 17 at the Shiv temple in Summer Hill, 5 in Fagli, and 2 in Krishnanagar, Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told news agency PTI.

The senior officer said that joint operations are being conducted by the Army, National and State Disaster Response Force, Police and Home Guards, to retrieve the bodies from the landslide rubble and at least three persons are still feared buried under the temple debris, adding that drones are being used for identification of high-risk zones and monitoring of sliding sites in the state capital.

At least 338 people have died in rain-related incidents and road accidents since the onset of the monsoon in Himachal Pradesh on June 24. 38 people are also reported missing, as per data provided by the state emergency operation centre.

Of the 338 deaths, 221 people have died in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh, it said.

The emergency centre said that about 11,900 houses got partially or completely damaged, around 560 roads are still closed in the state and 253 transformers and 107 water supply schemes have been disrupted.

While assessing the damage in flood-affected areas of Indora and Fatehpur assembly constituencies in Kangra district, Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, however, said Himachal Pradesh has suffered a loss of over Rs 10,000 crore, with 350 lives lost and 50 people still missing.

MeT sounds orange alert

The local MeT office Saturday sounded an orange warning of heavy to very heavy rains on August 20 and 21 and a yellow alert of heavy rains on August 22 and 23. It also cautioned of moderate to high risk of flash floods in Shimla, Sirmaur and Chamba districts.

Heavy rains can result in landslides, flash floods and an increase in water level in rivers and drains besides causing damage to the standing crops, fruit plants and young seedlings, the MeT warned.

A red alert is a warning for extremely bad weather conditions that are certainly going to disrupt travel and power and pose a significant risk to life. An orange warning indicates extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption in commute with road and drain closures and interruption of power supply.

‘Natural Calamity’

On Friday, the Himachal Pradesh government declared the state a “Natural Calamity Affected Area” in view of the damage caused by heavy rains leading to the loss of human life and extensive damage to property.

The state government has urged the Centre to declare the tragedy a national disaster, Agnihotri said and added that the recent natural calamity in the state is the most devastating in the past 50 years.

The deputy chief minister said that according to initial estimates, the Jal Shakti Department has incurred a loss of more than Rs 2,000 crore.

Agnihotri said that the people of Indora and Fatehpur, particularly in the Mand area, of Kangra district have been severely affected by rising water levels of the Beas river.

He said that 27 panchayats in the Indora and Fatehpur have been impacted, with 22 panchayats suffering the most damage, due to flooding in the downstream area of the Pong reservoir.

The deputy chief minister said that according to initial estimates, the Public Works Department has incurred a loss of Rs 54 crore, the Jal Shakti Department Rs 31 crore, and the Electricity Department Rs 4 crore in these areas.

Illegal mining major cause of floods

He also pointed out that illegal mining has emerged as a major cause behind the devastating floods in Indora and Fatehpur.

This unlawful activity has led to the deterioration of river banks, diverting water flow towards villages and fields in the region, he added.

In order to prevent such incidents in the future, the issue of phased channelisation of the Beas River has been raised with the Centre, and will be pursued further, Agnihotri said.

He said departments such as the public works, electricity and Jal Shakti have been directed to expedite works in the affected areas.

(With PTI inputs)

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