Vehicular and rail traffic on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway was badly hit on Monday as dozens of landslides occurred at various places on the route. In Solan district alone, eight persons, including a boy studying in the seventh standard in Parwanoo, died. Northern Railway said it has cancelled 12 trains on the Kalka-Shimla route following landslides at 24 locations.
According to the Solan district administration, 102 roads have been damaged in the district out of which traffic has been restored on 62 roads, due to landslides triggered by heavy rain since Sunday night. A statement issued by the Himachal Pradesh government on Monday said of the total 16 deaths, eight have been reported from Solan district.
On Monday, the vehicular traffic remained disrupted, leading to slow movement and long jams, after repeated landslides occurred at a few locations on the Parwanoo-Solan route.
Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded for several hours. Police said one-way traffic was restored on Monday morning after the first landslide blocked the road around 3 am. In various parts of the Parwanoo-Dharampur route, the roads were flooded leading to a road cave-in near Chakki Mor.
Solan SP Madhusudan Sharma told Chandigarh Newsline that traffic was progressing at a snail’s pace. “The fist landslide occurred early Monday morning and the work to clear the road began immediately. We managed to open the road for one-way traffic around 10.30 am. But continuous landslides on the route hampered restoration work,” he said. The SP said a boy, named Himanshu, from Rani village near Parwanoo, got washed away in the Kaushalya rivulet. “The boy, while going to school with his grandfather, slipped into the rivulet. Rescue operation is on and we are yet to retrieve his body,” added Sharma.
On Monday afternoon, a Tempo traveller carrying vegetables overturned near Chakki Mor, again blocking the one-way traffic on the route.
The vehicles which remained stranded for hours on Monday mostly belonged to tourists and truckers carrying apples.
“We started at 11 pm from Shimla on Sunday and we have not reached Parwanoo yet. Landslides at several places disrupted traffic on the route. We were stopped at various places because of road blockade after landslides,” said Harbans Singh, whose vehicle was one of the many vehicles stranded in the Chakki Mor area on Monday afternoon. The area was struck by repeated landslides on Monday.
Those stranded also blamed the district administration for not taking appropriate steps to clear the landslides. At Chakki Mor, one crane deployed in restoration work stopped working after its blades developed a problem.
Not only road blockade, but railway services were badly hit, too.
A statement issued by the Northern Railway, which looks after the Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge section of Ambala division, said landslides and fallen trees blocked tracks at more than 24 locations, which led to severe rail disruption. “Fresh hill slips are taking place. These sites were inaccessible by roads and therefore restoration has become difficult. Railway officials on special duty have been deployed to monitor the situation,” the statement added.
According to railway officials, 12 trains on the route were cancelled on Monday. “The passengers of three trains en route were cancelled and brought back to Kalka station after clearing the track from Sonwara station to Kalka,” said the statement. The railways said train services were expected to be restored by 2 pm on Tuesday.