Three days of incessant rain, which lashed Himachal Pradesh from September 22 to 24, has caused an infrastructure loss, mainly to the road network, of Rs 220 crore, according to the state government’s initial survey. In these three days, the state, according to Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda, has also launched its “biggest ever rescue operation” with 898 stranded persons being moved to safety, including 300 on Wednesday. Around 900 persons are yet to be rescued, mostly from parts of Lahaul-Sapiti, Kullu and Manali, she said.
The rain relented on Wednesday and around 36 persons were airlifted from a remote area in Lahaul, including around 9 foreigners. Around 600 roads, mostly link roads, were also reopened Wednesday.
Kullu-Chandigarh National Highway was also opened on Tuesday evening. The rescued persons included local residents, tourists and trekkers.
Due to very heavy rain in the catchment area of Beas river, Kullu — which is located on the banks of Beas — is the worst affected district and the road network took a major hit here. Connection to Manali was almost completely snapped, barring the ‘Raisin bridge’, an old bridge which is now being used for rescue operations only with no other traffic allowed. Apart from this, damage to infrastructure was also reported from Chamba, Mandi and other parts.
Information from Himachal government revealed that in this monsoon season from July 1 to September 25, the total loss of public property mainly to road network, was Rs 1443.92 crore in state, out of which a loss of Rs 220.29 crore was recorded in just three days from September 22 to 24 — this figure being 15 per cent of the total loss during the monsoon season.
The state government has released Rs 260 crore for the immediate rescue and restoration work, while an additional Rs 200 crore have been demanded from the Centre for immediate relief
“According to the initial surveys, a loss of Rs 220.29 crore has been reported but the final survey would be completed only after the completion of rescue work and the figures of loss would be much more,” said Additional Chief Secretary, Himachal Pradesh, Manisha Nanda while talking to The Indian Express. She further added that it was the biggest ever rescue operation launched by the government in Himachal till date.
“We have even taken the help of the Border Roads Organisation to rescue the people from the area where 5 ft snowfall had taken place in Lahaul area,” said the Additional Chief Secretary, adding that no one expected such heavy snowfall in the month of September.
Deputy Commissioner Kullu Yunus Khan said that they were calculating the exact loss because dozens of roads getting badly damaged. SP Kullu, Shalini Agnihotri, said that Kullu to Manali link could be resumed within three days if weather remains favourable. According to official figures, a total 14 deaths have been reported so far.
Officials said two IAF helicopters are continuously airlifting people stranded in various areas including Koksar and Baralacha.
The weather conditions are favourable now and BRO personnel are on their job to clear the roads of debris, the SDM said hoping that most of the roads would be opened by Thursday morning.