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Massive rains, landslides, floods and house collapse force closure of schools, colleges in Himachal

Rains have already paralysed normal life in Himachal Pradesh, including the capital town of Shimla (Video grab courtesy: Twitter)

Shimla: Massive rainfall, major landslides, and flash floods apart from incidents of houses collapse, road blockades have wreaked havoc in Himachal Pradesh forcing the state government to order closure of all schools and colleges in the state.

Five people, including three from a single family, have died in the past 24 hours even as the toll due to rains and flash floods has risen to 51.

Three members of a family were killed in a house collapse after a landslide in Shimla district’s Kotgarh area. In Kullu town, a landslide damaged a makeshift house, leaving a woman dead.

In another incident, a person was buried alive following a landslide in Katiyan tehsil of Chamba on Saturday night.

Amid the surging of the river and falling of stones on the Kullu-Manali road, the movement of vehicles from Kullu and Manali towards Atal Tunnel and Rohtang has been completely stopped, the police said.

A bridge connecting Aut with Banjar got washed away snapping the road communication in a large hilly area of Kullu district.

Water from overflowing Beas river enters Pandoh village in Mandi district as videos of the place have already gone viral on the social media. The district administration has started measures to ensure safety of the local population marooned due to water flowing through the inhabited area.

As many as thirteen landslides and nine flash floods have been reported in the state in the past 36 hours, while 736 roads have been closed for traffic.

Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu said all the private schools functioning in the state and affiliated to CBSE, ICSE and any other Education Board will be closed for the next two days. He advised that safety and security of the students and employees will be ensured at every level.

In view of the bad weather forecast, the state government has alerted concerned district administration for safety measures and to inform the general public of the same.

Sukhu appealed to the people of the state to avoid going near the rivers and nallahs besides remaining vigilant amidst the ongoing adverse weather conditions as per the warning issued by meteorological department.

Shimla has also been hit by uprooting of the trees and landslides creating a panic among the citizens living next to the vulnerable sites prone to falling of the trees and sinking of the roads.

Town’s posh US club area has been affected by a fallen tree as half a dozen families had a providential escape to be buried down beneath it as the tree fell on the rooftop. Major roads have remained affected for movement of the traffic in the town—the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a ‘Red alert’ on Saturday warning of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in seven districts of Himachal Pradesh for the next two days. The department categorically advised the travellers and tourists to avoid journey to the hills, seeing a massive threat to lives and properties.

According to the IMD statement, isolated places in the districts of Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur are likely to receive extremely heavy rainfall on July 8 and 9. The IMD has also advised to brace for potential landslides and flooding and avoid vulnerable and water logging prone areas.

This followed a spate of landslides resulting in disruption of movement of vehicles and cases of road collapse and uprooting of the trees on the roads and National Highways endangering the safety of road users and natives.

The state government’s Disaster Management Authority (DMA) has already alerted the emergency response teams for rescue operations, and provided assistance to those affected. The rains have already paralysed normal life in the state, including the capital town of Shimla–also prone to building collapse and accidents.

The popular tourists’ hill station of Kasauli was affected following caving in of the road between Dharampur and Kasauli adjoining Kalka-Shimla NH-5. Heavy boulders and debris came on the road resulting in snapping of the main connectivity.

“Kimmughat-Chakki Mor road, a vital transportation route in the region, has been forced to shut down due to the landslides. The unstable ground and debris have made the road impassable, compounding the difficulties faced by residents and travellers alike” said a local resident.

The Parwanoo-Shimla National Highway has also been severely affected by landslides and falling debris even as hill cutting done for four-lane projects has made travelling to Shimla extremely dangerous during the rains.

Himachal Pradesh is witnessing landslides almost every day for the past one week as there is no respite from the monsoon precipitation.

Famous Chakki bridge which provides vital inter-state connectivity to Kangra on Pathankot-Mandi National has been rendered unsafe due to washing away of the protection wall due to flash floods and rains.

”The gabion wall raised around pillars 1 and 2 of the bridge six months ago to protect these was washed away following flash floods triggered by torrential rains” an official of the Kangra district administration informed in Shimla.

What is shocking was the fact that several crores of rupees were spent twice on raising the gabion wall around these two pillars, which had been exposed up to five metres due to flash floods in August last year. The gabion wall had earlier washed away on September 25 last year.

The NHAI has written to the Kangra district administration and Nurpur sub-divisional authorities, informing them about the incident. Flash floods would endanger the existence of these pillars.

Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Dr Nipun Jindal said that the NHAI was assessing the condition of the bridge.

By now, 51 persons have lost their lives due to rains and landslides till Saturday even as seven persons died of drowning, while 80 persons reported injured as per information with State Disaster Management Control room.Property losses are estimated upto Rs 192.33 cr The loss to the agriculture crops and horticulture produce are yet to be assessed.

The tourism industry has been jolted badly by the rains and frequent landslides in the state. Hoteliers claim that there have been 40 to 50 cancellations in Manali and other destinations in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.

Meanwhile, landslides and flash floods blocked several roads in Shimla, Sirmaur, Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba and Solan districts. All the trains between UNESCO heritage Shimla and Kalka track have been cancelled as landslides and falling of trees blocked the railway track at many places.