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Uttarakhand Disaster: 10 Himachali Workers Among 197 Missing, Parents Reach Out to State Govt for Help



Himachali missing in uttarakhand glacier flood

Shimla-At least 10 persons hailing from Himachal Pradesh, who worked in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, are missing following the massive flash flood that devasted the Rishiganga hydropower project on February 7, 2021. 

These people are among 197 persons still missing or stuck in power project tunnels. So far, 31 bodies have been recovered.

Seven of these missing persons belong to Rampur’s Kinnu and Shingla panchayats, Shimla district. These persons have been identified as Devender Singh, Kailash Chand, Diwan Singh, Ashish, Amit Kumar, Pawan Kumar and Rakesh Kumar. Further, one person from Sirmaur district and one from Kangra district are also missing. These were identified as Gurmeet Verma, Rakesh Kapoor and Jeet Singh Thakur.

Details of one person were awaited. The report was confirmed by the Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, who was approached by panchayats members in Rampur with a plea to help.

“We have spoken to the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, to establish contact with the administration in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, to help trace these missing persons. I would also request the Chief Minister to speak to the Uttarakhand Government regarding this matter,”

Bhardwaj said.

Meanwhile, ecologists, environmentalists, and scientists are now pondering over the possibility of this disaster being man-made due to hydropower projects or climate change. Following this disaster in Chamoli, people in Lahaul-Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh, have opened a front against over 50 hydropower projects prosed to be set up in the region. Panchayats have also passed a resolution to not issue NOCs in favour of these projects and to demand cancellation of construction of these projects for the good of the people and the land.

At the same time, the formation of hundreds of small and large lakes in Himachal Pradesh due to the meltdown of glaciers owing to global warming has created more concerns.

It’s pertinent to mention that environmental groups, like Himdhara, had been warning the government of approving a large number of hydropower projects in the state blindly in pursuit of economic growth. The group had been highlighting about severe environmental hazards linked to the construction of these projects, which the government is not ready to admit. As a result of this deliberate neglection, the villagers, rivers, local water sources, farming lands, local wildlife etc. were suffering, the group had reported. Houses of people were destroyed due to seepage of water from tunnels of hydropower projects and they are forced to evacuate, the group had said in one of its reports. 

However, the government had been preferring its own opinion over theirs.

What Happened in Chamoli?

According to the statement given by the Union Minister Amit Shah, on February 7, 2021, at about 10 am, an avalanche occurred in the upper catchment of Rishiganga River, a tributary of Alaknanda River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. It led to a sudden rise in the water level of the Rishiganga River. Due to flash flood on account of rising of water levels in the river Rishiganga, a functional Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 MW was washed away. The flash flood also affected the under construction 520 MW NTPC Hydro Power Project downstream at Tapovan on the river Dhauli Ganga.

The satellite data (Planet Lab) from February 7, 2021, shows that in the catchment of Rishi Ganga river at the terminus of the glacier at an altitude of 5600 m a landslide triggered a snow avalanche covering approximately 14 sq. km area and causing a flash flood in the downstream of Rishi Ganga River.

Initial Damage Reported

As per the available information received from the Government of Uttarakhand, 28 persons have died and persons have been injured so far. As per information, a total of 197 persons are reported missing which includes 139 persons of under-construction project of NTPC, 46 persons of the functional Rishi Ganga Project and 12 villagers. The State Government, however, said that it has gathered this information from different sources and this may change.

Twelve persons from NTPC project have been rescued, who were trapped in a tunnel. Fifteen persons from Rishiganga project have also been rescued. In another tunnel of NTPC project, approximately 25–35 persons are suspected to have been trapped. Rescue operation to evacuate these persons is going on.

State Government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 4 lakh each for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the incident.

Due to washing away of one bridge, 13 villages around the place of the incident have been cut off. In these villages necessary supplies and medical assistance is being provided through helicopters, the government informed.

Status of Relief and Rescue Work

As per the statement given by the Home Minister, ITBP has set up their Control Room and 450 personnel of ITBP with all necessary equipment are engaged in rescue and relief operation. NDRF teams have reached the place of incident and are engaged in rescue and relief operation.  Eight teams of Indian Army, including one Engineer Task Force (ETF), are carrying rescue operation at the incident site. One Medical column with two ambulances is also deployed. One diving team of Indian Navy has also reached the incident site for the rescue operation. Five helicopters of Indian Air Force have also been engaged in the rescue operation. A Control Room has been established at Joshimath.

It was informed that despite adverse conditions at the incident site, search and rescue operation is continuously being carried out. After continuous and tireless efforts since night, Army has cleared debris at the opening of the tunnel to rescue the persons trapped in it.

All the staff of the Central Water Commission deployed in Alaknanda and Ganga Basin up to Haridwar are on alert. One team of Sashtra Seema Bal (SSB) is also deployed at the incident site. Team of Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) /DRDO has also reached the site for surveillance and reconnaissance.


4,145 New Covid Cases, 56 Deaths in 24-Hours; HP Govt Forms Paediatric Task Force to Tackle Third Wave




covid himachal

Shimla-The death toll in Himachal Pradesh climbed to 2,241 on Saturday after 56 Covid patients lost their lives in the last 24-hours. Meanwhile, 4,145 new cases of infection were reported on Saturday, taking the total number of cases in the state to 1,57,862 according to official data released by the state.

Kangra district reported the highest casualties with 19 deaths, while in Shimla, 15 patients died of severe symptoms of coronavirus. 13 patients who lost their lives were below the age of 50.

Daily Covid testing on Saturday reached 15,461, out of which test results of 1,876 samples remain awaited.  According to the state health department, 17,12,566 people have received their first dose of vaccine till Saturday, while 4,34,307 people across the state have received both doses of Covid vaccine.

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Cases for May 15, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

daily cases in himachal

As the rate of new cases and fatality remains high, the corona curfew in Himachal Pradesh has been extended till May 26 after a meeting of the state government cabinet was held on Saturday. The state also announced some rules and provisions to curb the spread of infection in the state. Medical Colleges, Zonal and Regional Hospitals, and hospitals with a bed capacity of 200 and above were allowed to hire vans to carry dead bodies. Weddings in the state are now only to take place in residences or courts, with a maximum gathering of 20 people.

The state government also held a high-level meeting on Saturday to constitute a Paediatric Task Force to tackle the anticipated third wave. According to reports, the third wave will most likely affect children and teenagers. Earlier this month, the principal scientific adviser to the central government, K VijayRaghavan, had said at a briefing that the high levels of the virus meant “a phase 3 is inevitable.”

The Paediatric Task Force would study the availability of medical infrastructure in various Pediatric Intensive Care Units, Neonatal Intensive Care Units, Sick Newborn Care Units, and Newborn Stabilization Units, to formulate plans for augmentation of machinery, equipment, and Human Resources.

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Deaths for May 15, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

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HP Cabinet Decisions: Curfew in Himachal Extended, Free Wood for Cremation, Marriages Allowed Only in Homes or Courts



hp cabinet decision may 2021

Shimla-Corona Curfew in Himachal Pradesh has been extended further till May 26 as the state has witnessed no respite in a surge in daily Covid-19. The decision was taken after a meeting of the HP Government Cabinet today.

To check the exodus of labourers and workers all the shops dealing with construction materials would also remain open on Tuesday and Friday a week for three hours.

The Cabinet also decided to allow hiring dead body vans to all the Medical Colleges and Zonal and Regional Hospitals and hospitals with a bed capacity of 200 and above.  The forest department would provide free wood for the cremation of corona deceased where forest rights are enforced. The forest corporation would provide fuelwood in other areas. All the MCs would be allowed to hire dead body vans.

The Cabinet also decided that no marriages would be allowed to hire marriage palaces, community halls and tent houses and outside catering and DJ/Band. Marriage would be only held in houses or Courts with the restriction of 20 persons. There will also be no procession of Barat.

The Cabinet gave its consent to fill up 219 posts of different categories on a contract basis under the National Health Mission in the State to provide better health care facilities to the people.

The Cabinet also gave its nod to procure CT Scan 128 slice and MRI 1.5 Tesla Machines worth Rs. 20 crore in Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru Government Medical College, Chamba to facilitate the people.

It accorded its approval its ex-post-facto permission to the executing agency of Makeshift Covid-19 Hospital at Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College, Ner Chowk Mandi to include construction of one labour room and one operation theatre etc. to facilitate the people.

It also decided to open Health Sub Centre at Sartyaula in Mandi district alongwith creation of requisite posts to man the Sub Centre.

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Himachal’s Distressed Tourism Industry Stakeholders Write to CM Jairam Thakur, Seeks Financial Package



Himachal Pradesh Hoteliers Association to hp govt

Shimla-Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association on Friday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur seeking financial aid from the state government to save the industry amid COVID-19 resurgence. They also highlighted the shared plight of hotels and restaurants falling in debt and failing to provide for the expenses.

“Since the beginning of last year, hotel industry continues to take hits due to the coronavirus. A seven-to-eight-month long lockdown in the entire country affected industry stakeholders. Tourism industry appeared to have revived in the month of October and expectations were high for the next tourist season” the association said.

Several hoteliers and restaurants had spent on maintenance hoping for a good season this year. But since most of the states have now imposed lockdowns, all hopes were dashed to the ground and the industry is facing a huge financial crisis.

The tourism units are not able to pay the interest and EMI of loans raised by them due to loss faced by the industry for the consecutive second year. The stakeholders fearthat  the loan raised by them may slip to NPA

The Association said that hoteliers and businessmen involved in the hospitality industry did not receive any relief from the government and managed their units/services by spending from savings or by raising loans.

The units have somehow managed to pay salaries and other expenses for the April month, the association said, but expressed inability to do so for the May month as the working capital has dropped to zero.

Mohinder Seth, President, Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association, has written to the Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and Governor, RBI, requesting for the deferment of loans and to save the loans from becoming NPA.

Seth has also requested the central government to provide Himachal Pradesh’s tourism industry with a financial package to deal with the devastation caused by the second wave of COVID-19.

“We support the measures taken by the government to break the chain of coronavirus. If the government plans on extending the lockdown to seventeen more days, we will support the decision because we understand the need to save people’s life is important. Similarly, it is important to save the industry – source of employment to lakhs of people. We request honorable CM to extend financial aid to the industry stakeholders,” Mohinder Seth concluded.

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