Updated: July 13, 2021 7:13:33 am
Three persons went missing as flash floods triggered by heavy rains swept away buildings and cars at tourist spots in Himachal Pradesh on Monday with the state government ordering various district administrations to ensure speedy relief and rescue operation in the affected areas. Dharamshala, McLeodganj and Kangra’s Shahpur tehsil were among the places hit. While CM Jai Ram Thakur ordered all districts to be on alert, PM Narendra Modi tweeted that Centre was extending all help needed to the state government.
As bad weather led to the closure of the Dharamshala airport, the district administration also instructed tourists to postpone their visit for now.
In Shahpur tehsil’s Boh village, around eight houses, shops and cowsheds were washed away in a huge landslide following the cloudburst on a hill in the Boh valley.
While sources said that casualties were feared here, there was still no information about the number of people, cattle washed away or buried under the debris.
Soon after the landslide, a rescue operation was started by locals amid the rain as no rescue team could reach the spot till 5 pm Monday.
Suresh Kumar, a Boh village resident, said from the spot that after the cloudburst water gushed down a small local nallah and washed away houses, cowsheds in its path.
“We have not been able to recover any bodies or rescue people alive so far,” said Suresh over the phone. There is Bral Khad downstream from the village where this nallah meets with this khad and if people were washed away to this khad then it will be difficult to find them,” he added.
“A rescue team has been sent to the Boh valley, but there have been many landslides along the road and it is very difficult to reach the spot,” said Naib Tehsildar, Shahpur.
In Dharamshala, rain wreaked havoc in village Bhagsunag near McLeodganj and Chatroo village.
A drain near Bhagsunag in upper Dharamsala adjoining McLeodganj changed its course owing to heavy rains, sweeping away four cars and several bikes, video clips showed.
A government school building at Bhagsunag was also damaged and adjacent hotels there were inundated, it showed.
Downstream from Dharmshala people had built their houses besides the nallah. Two to there such houses were completely washed away. About four houses were reported to be on the verge of collapsing.
“The local administration has vacated more than two dozen houses and prevented huge loss of life,” said SDM Dharmashala, Harish Gajju.
“Due to inclement weather and heavy rains, all incoming flights to Dharamshala airport at Gaggal have been cancelled,” said airport’s traffic in-charge Gaurav Kumar.
The flash flood also cut the Passu-Shilla link road in many places. Two JCBs were sent to Bhagsunag where washed away vehicles were stuck in mud. There are dozens of hotels in the Bhagsunag area.
“The scene was very horrible. I have never seen such flooding in my lifetime,” said Abhishek, a local resident of Dharmshala.
The flash floods also damaged a bridge on the Mandi-Pathankot highway after which traffic was stopped on both sides, leading to a traffic jam.
Deputy Commissioner Dr Nipun Jindal said, “Eight persons have been rescued from Triund. Meanwhile, all tourists visiting Dharamsala have been instructed to postpone their tour so that they do not face any kind of inconvenience.”
He said the tourists who have already arrived in Dharamsala and its surrounding places have also been advised to stay where they are as roads have also been damaged due to heavy rains, which may cause problems in their movement. The district administration is also making elaborate arrangements for the safety of the tourists staying in Dharamsala and its surrounding areas, he said, adding that in case of any problem, they can contact the toll free number 1077 of the disaster control room.
“Instructions have also been given to people to not go to sensitive places prone to landslides. Some people have also been shifted to safer places due to flood conditions in some areas of the district,” said Jindal.
Officials have been directed to complete relief and rehabilitation immediately, the DC said, adding that control rooms have also been set up and steps have also been taken to make the weather forecast available to people.
Jindal pointed out that according to the Meteorological Department forecast, heavy rain on July 13 as well as from July 14 to 16 has been predicted. Keeping this in mind, orders have been issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005 to district officers of all the departments in Kangra district to remain alert.
In Shimla, due to landslide at Brauini, near Jhakri, traffic on the National Highway was suspended for two to three hours.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that all districts have been put on alert and tourists advised not to go near the rivers and nalhas. “Directions have been directed to keep all machinery ready for any emergency,” the CM said.
Centre extending help: PM
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The situation in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy rains is being closely monitored. Authorities are working with the state government. All possible support is being extended. I pray for the safety of those in affected areas.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Himachal Chief Minister Thakur to take stock of the situation arising due to the floods in several districts of the state and assured him all possible help from the Centre.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur also said that Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government were working together to deal with the “fierce” flood calamity in the state where monsoon rains have caused flashfloods affecting daily life.
“The Central and state government are working with better coordination to deal with the fierce form of natural calamity in Devbhoomi Himachal. There is an appeal to all the tourists and the general public to take full care, do not leave the houses unnecessarily and do not go towards the water sources,” he tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi prayed for the safety of the people of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. I appeal to Congress workers in all affected areas to lend a helping hand. Please stay safe,” he wrote on Twitter
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