Ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the NHAI and the PWD for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.
Mandi -The massive rescue operation at the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway 154, where a monster landslide swept away two buses along with several passengers on Saturday night, was resumed by the teams of National Disaster Relief Force, Army, and district administration.
Monsoon could hamper the rescue operation as there are chances of heavy rainfall in Mandi and Kangra districts, Manmohan Singh, the meteorological office director, told IANS.
One of the most tragic incidents could have killed over 50 people. As per the district administration, the rescue teams had recovered 46 bodies by last night.
Special Secretary, Disaster, and Revenue, D D Sharma informed that over 46 bodies were recovered and the rescue operation is still underway.
Today, the death toll is said to have risen to 50. There is a possibility of more people being buried under enormous mounds of debris.
The landslide was so massive that rescue teams couldn’t find the complete wreckage of the buses. They are recovering pieces of the bus. Several bodies could not be identified as they were badly mutilated.
So far only 23 bodies were identified.
Himachal Pradesh: Relief materials being distributed in Mandi, 46 bodies were recovered yesterday following landslide in the area.
— ANI (@ANI) August 14, 2017
Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, Sandeep Kadam informed that in view of the possible landslide, a village in the area was declared unsafe and residents were asked to move to safer places.
The traffic was diverted via IIT Kamand while Mandi-Aut section of Chandigarh- Manali road was closed for the traffic. The administration advised the commuters to take the Mandi Kullu Road via Kotla.
The Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation has issued an alert over possible landslides in over 60 routes in parts of the Shimla district. These routes are not canceled but the people were advised to be careful.
These routes fall in regions more prone to landslides during monsoon. The night services to the upper regions of the capital were also canceled.
Moreover, the HRTC drivers were given liberty to assess the situation on a route and act accordingly.
Other than the buses, half a dozen houses, a few shops, and several other vehicles were also swept down the gorge. The landslide was massive and affected over 250 meters patch of the NH 154. While the house owners and shopkeepers were alarmed as some debris started to roll down prior to the landslide. Survivors and eyewitnesses said, they heard a thundering sound too.
Though, it is not confirmed why a huge portion of the hill broke apart, initially the administration expressed the possibility of a cloudburst.
Meanwhile, several stories including those of the survivors appeared in daily newspapers and online news portals.
Among survivors was a boy, Sunny, who was traveling on a bike with his friend. Sunny managed to escape while his friend was lost forever.
A woman, who had lost her husband last year, lost her two daughters and a son traveling in Chamba-Manali bus.
Three girls also survived the terrifying incident. Two of them were discharged after some treatment while two others were referred to the Indira Gandhi Medical Collage, Shimla.
The State Health Department has announced a relief of Rs. 4 lakh to the families of the deceased while the Transport Minister had granted Rs. 1 lakh.
After the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot, the former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had also paid a visit.
NHAI and PWD Under Fire for Callousness
At the same time, ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works Department (PWD) for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.
The majority of people agreed that Himachal’s ecology is much more sensitive than other parts of the world. The government can’t apply common norms and methods while widening the roads or digging tunnels through mountains.
The effect of unscientific cutting of hills for four-laning is clearly visible on Shimla-Kalka NH that has become landslide prone.
Such disasters could be averted if these authorities could learn from the previous landslide in the same region.
The Geological Survey of India regularly releases a list of high-risk zones. However, the state government of the NHAI never bothers to neutralize these threats.
Scientifically, say experts, it is possible to assess the possibility of a landslide from hills directly above the roads. Moreover, the region where this landslide wasted so many lives occurred has reported several landslides recently.
The government does announce monetary relief and pray for the well-being of the survivors but entirely neglect deeper contemplation over possible measures to loss of life and property.
Top Images: Tribune/ANI/Amar Uajal
Video: Fire in Shimla’s Gumma devours Rs. 40 lakh property
Shimla: In a tragic incident of fire breakout in Gumma area of Kotkhai region in Shimla district on Saturday, about six rooms of a three-story building were lost. The fire brigade saved the two storeys and buildings adjacent to it.
No loss of life was reported, but the estimated loss of assets was initially assessed at about 40 lakh rupees.The owner of the house was identified as Rohit Chauhan.
Rohit’s mother was alone at the house when the fire broke out at about 3 PM. His mother called for help. However, the fire gutted six rooms on the third storey along with all belongings by the time the fire service reached the spot.
The cause of the fire is believed to be a short-circuit.
While the other two stories housed shops, the third one was Rohit’s home.
The district administration has given Rs. 20,000 as a relief to the victim family.
Sirmaur Tragedy: 7-year-old mauled to death by pack of stray dogs
Shimla: In a spine-chilling incident, a pack of about half-a-dozen stray dogs on Saturday attacked and mauled a 7-year-old boy in Amarkot village in Paonta sub-division, Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh. As per the initial reports, the brutal attack by the dogs inflicted severe injuries on the head, throat, and neck.
On hearing the cries of the boy, the nearby people rushed to rescue the boy. However, dogs were so aggressive that they bit a couple of these people too.
The boy succumbed to the injuries on the way to the hospital. The boy was identified as Vikki, son of a migrant labour of Uttar Prades. The family was heart-broken after their piece of heart died a horrible death.
The head of the Amarkot village, Rakesh Mehraloo, said repeated complaints were made regarding the growing stray dog menace to the administration. Rakesh told media that some incidents of attack by stray dogs were also reported previously, which were also brought to the attention of the administration.
The administration, however, turned a blind eye towards the complaints and did not take any measure to solve this grieve issue, he said.
If the administration had acted timely, such a horrific incident could have been prevented.
It is pertinent to mention that the state government has also ignored the provision of dog-shelters and showed lackadaisical attitude in regular sterilizing of stray dogs.
Rest, the littering of food waste attract stray dogs and facilitate their reproduction, leading to such a nightmare.
The incident has created panic among the residents about the safety of their children.
Drought-like situation haunts Himachal as no rain, snow in stock, HP DM holds emergency meeting
Shimla: As snow and rain continue to evade the peak winter season in Himachal Pradesh, which is already facing 49 percent post-monsoon rain deficiency, the State Disaster Management called a meeting to embraces for the impact of the drought-like situation in the State.
Today, the maximum day temperature in the capital Shimla was recorded at 19 Degree Celsius while the day was hottest for Una at 27 Degree Celsius.
While a debate over the role of global warming behind erratic changes in the weather can also be heard, the Met Department blamed the western disturbances, which, it said, are not strong this year, hence, there is no precipitation.
The nigh temperature in winters remains close to seven to nine Degrees Celsius, which is four to five notches above from the average temperature witnessed during this time of the year. If the same pattern continues for the next two weeks, then it will not only hit the Rs. 20,000-crore apple industry but the tourist influx too.
The apple growers need moisture and several hundred chilling hours to ensure ample apple crop, and this year they are short of the required chilling hours.
The apple production, which was over 850 metric ton in 2011, has already been reducing.
Other crops like green almonds, tomatoes, pears, apricots, cabbage, cauliflower etc will also be affected due to dry weather.
The hoteliers and ski resorts are witnessing fall in tourist influx as the chances of snowfall are scarce.
Meeting of HP Disaster Mangement
In wake of the drought-like situation, the Principal Secretary (Revenue and Disaster Management) Onkar Chand Sharma held a meeting with senior officers of various departments including the Deputy Commissioners of all 12 districts video conferencing.
Onkar Sharma said the government has analyzed entire rainfall data of all districts. It was found that there is a deficiency of 49 percent in the State (post-monsoon).
The meteorological department has predicted chances of scattered to moderate rainfall during 23-24 January 2018. Except that, the weather is likely to remain mostly dry until January 22 and January 25 onwards.
However, the government said that the state has received ample rainfall during December 2017, therefore, the Rabi crops and the drinking water supply are unaffected so far.
The Disaster Managment will prepare a contingency plan to combat the drought-like situations, said the Secretary.
There are 45 labs of the IPH department for the testing of drinking water supply, he informed.
The Deputy Commissioners were asked to ensure water quality testing randomly up to the subdivision level and arrange water tankers in water-scarce areas as well as fodder for livestock.
All the districts were also directed to take remedial measures to stop contamination of drinking water sources. Besides it, the Secretary directed super chlorination in all districts to prevent water-borne diseases like Jaundice.
Special Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Shri D.C. Rana, Director, Indian Meteorological Department Shri Manmohan Singh, Chief Engineer of IPH Department, senior officers from Horticulture and Agriculture also attended the meeting.
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