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Monsoon Fury in Himachal Kills Over 10, Leaves Several Homeless, Causes Extensive Damages to Properties

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monsoon losses in Himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh witnessed an episode of furious monsoon on 12th and 13th July that caused the loss of as many as 12 lives and extensive damages to personal and public property. Hundreds of roads were blocked due to landslides or swept away by rivers/rivulets in spate following a heavy downpour. Some areas also faced blackouts as hundreds of transformers and power lines were destroyed.

Kangra district, however, was worst hit with a flash flood ramming parts of Dharamshala town including Mclodganj. Videos on social media showed how gushing waters swept away vehicles and buildings like pieces of paper. At calamity unleashed its fury at a time when the town was overcrowded with tourists. Several of them lost their vehicles completely. Post the flash flood, people were seen wailing over their losses and trying to collect whatever was left.

Till yesterday, Shahpur had recorded 264 mm of rain, Dharamsala 230 mm, and Palampur 210 mm.

Bhagasu Naag- a small waterfall that flows down as a narrow stream at a gentle pace-showed a vagary on July 12 and turned into a violent giant following heavy downpours in the upper catchment area of Dhauladhar ranges. The suspected cause is believed to be a cloudburst, however, no authority has confirmed it. The incident also highlighted encroachment and unplanned and illegal construction in the town area. The stream flowing down the Bhagasu waterfall is narrowing down due to encroachments. Over-construction, including illegal ones, have either covered the drainage spaces with concrete or shrunk them in size. This was one reason the flash flood took such a furious form and led to huge damages. Being a popular tourist hill station caused the commercialization of natural resources beyond their capacities in Dharamshala. Both local administration and people are equally indulged in this disaster.

Further, there were other areas where gushing water of rivulets swept through settlements, carrying away concrete bridges and inundating houses. In the area surrounding Gaggal airport, construction on encroached land also led to more damage. In nutshell, poor planning precedes the construction activity and paves the way for disasters, which could cause loss of both lives and property. Needless to say that corruption and callousness in administration made this possible.

Punjabi Singer, Manmeet Singh, was also killed after he was swept away by gushing waters of a Nullah near Kareri lake where he had gone trekking with his brother and friends on Monday. His body was recovered on Tuesday.

The biggest jolt to Kangra came from Boh Valley in Shahpur constituency of Kangra district where a landslide, triggered by a possible cloudburst, washed away about seven to ten houses completely and buried over a dozen of people, and washed away the main link road to the valley. While six persons were rescued safely, the bodies of five others had been recovered at the time of the filing of this report. More people are missing and teams of the National Disaster Response Force along with local police and villagers were carrying out the rescue work. The landslide hit the village at about 10:30 am on Monday, but the NDRF and other rescue support reached the spot by evening – a delay of several hours. Washed away or blocked roads were cited to be the reason. On the first night, villagers carried out rescue work themselves and managed to get at least four people out alive. Some villagers questioned as to why the rescue teams were not airlifted through a chopper if the roads were blocked. 

Himachal Watcher continuously tried to contact the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Nipun Jindal, to obtain more facts but did not receive a response.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on June 13 carried out an aerial survey and also visited the site of the landslide and spoke to the affected families.

“Every possible assistance would be provided to the affected families and their proper rehabilitation would also be ensured. Rupees four lakh each would be provided to the families of the deceased and financial help would be given to the people whose houses have been damaged in this natural calamity for construction of houses,” Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister said that a team of NDRF was coordinating the district administration in rescue and relief works and all-out efforts were being made to trace the missing persons.

MP Kishan Kapoor also visited the spot and took stock of the situation.

Further, the NDRF and district administration had to rescue several persons stranded on an island in the Giri river in the Paonta Sahib sub-division of the Sirmaur district on Monday.

Regions of the Kullu district were also hit by landslides and blockages of roads at a time when the tourist influx was very high. Some areas also reported blackouts.  The body of an MBBS student, who was on a trekking tour with her friends, was recovered from Hamta Pass. Astha Katoch, 23, had fallen into a Nullah. while trekking. The Adventure Tours Operators Association of Manali pointed out that the area is falling victim to mass trekking and a lot of agencies offering trekking tours were flouting rules by bringing more trekkers on tourism than permitted. It’s putting both the safety of trekkers and the environment at risk, the Association said.

Following the disasters in Kangra and Hamta Pass, the district administration of Kullu has prohibited adventure activities till September 15 and issued an alert for adverse weather during the next three days.

Advisories were also issued for tourists and locals to not venture to places vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and landslides and near water bodies.

Other affected districts were Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, and Lahaul-Spiti where roads were blocked and electricity supply was affected due to damages to transformers.

The HP Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert with a prediction of widespread rains from July 14th to 17th  for the plains and middle hills.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Kinnaur Landslide: 14 Bodies Recovered in 30 Hours, Several Still Missing

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Kinnaur landslide rescue operation photos

Kinnaur: Landslide in Kinnaur district is unfolding as one of the biggest catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh as the of fatality count continues to rise. After 30 hours of the rescue operation, which was hampered multiple times due to shooting stones at the site, 14 dead bodies had been recovered till the suspension of the operation on Thursday evening. While 10 bodies were recovered on Wednesday, four more were exhumed from the rubble on Thursday.

As many as 15 persons were rescued and taken to Bhavanagar CHC for treatment.

The wreckage of the HP Road Transport Corporation bus was found scattered about 500 meters below the National Highway-5 in Nigulsari – the site of the massive landslide. The condition of the wreckage suggested there was little hope of survival of any passenger. The distraught relatives of the missing persons remained at the site, grieving with diminishing hope to see their family members alive as the rescue operation for today was suspended.

Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

HRTC Bus Wreckage

The state of exhumed bodies added to the horror of the families, as well as, the rescuers. Some of the bodies were in such a state that their identification was next to impossible. While some bodies had their limbs cut off, one of them was found without the head.

As the rescue operation would be entering its third day on Friday, the death toll is likely to rise as the driver of the bus, who had survived the accident and was seriously injured, had estimated that 25-30 passengers were onboard when the landslide pushed it down the NH.

Further, there is still no sign of one vehicle (Bolero SUV), informed Director, State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta. The exact number of people feared to be buried under the rubble was yet to be ascertained. According to the district administration, based on calls received from families, the number of missing people could be anywhere between 30-50.

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

Meanwhile, some family members of the missing persons complained that while the rescue operation was initiated immediately from the Negulsari side, JCB machines took over five hours to reach the spot from the Chauri side. They complained that such a big delay was crucial and could have saved more lives.

It’s pertinent to mention that the HRTC bus had remained untraceable on Wednesday and the wreckage was found on the second day of the rescue operation. However, most passengers were yet to be traced.  

According to the Deputy Commandant, ITBP, Dharmender Thakur, shooting stones and sliding rubble posed a huge challenge for the rescue teams, which comprised of hundreds of personnel of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, local police, and CISF. Undertaking this operation on a steep slope further created difficult circumstances for the teams. The lives of the rescuers were also at risk as the site remained vulnerable to reactivation of landslide.

This landslide in the Kinnaur district has become a matter of debate for geologists, environmentalists, seismologists and climatologists. Unscientific cutting of fragile mountains and blasting for the widening of roads and construction of tunnels for hydropower projects, changing patterns of rains, and seismic activity are being referred to be the reasons behind the increased incidents of landslides, especially in Kinnaur district.

At the same time, the inability of the state government to consider technical suggestions given by geological experts from time to time for mitigation of such hazards is also finding mention in the critical comments given by experts. The lackadaisical attitude of the government in the adoption of technologies, such as the early warning system developed by the IIT Mandi for mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides, is also attracting criticism.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the Kotrupi disaster – a massive landslide that had buried two buses and claimed 48 lives in August 2017-experts from IIT Mandi had carried out surveys and studies and provided several suggestions for minimizing damages, which fell into deaf ears.  

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Rohit Kumar
  2. Vanshuka
  3. Meera Devi
  4. Nitisha
  5. Prem Kumar
  6. Gyan Dassi
  7. Devi Chand
  8. Kumari Radhika
  9. Bhupender
  10. Kamlesh Kumar
  11. Lakshman Thapa
  12. Vijay Kumar

Two others were yet to be identified. The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5o thousand to the injured. HRTC has also announced Rs. 1 lakh ex-gratia to the passengers of the bus killed in the mishap. 

Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and several other political leader visited the spot and met the relatives of victims on Thursday. 

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Kinnaur Tragedy: HRTC Bus Wreckage Found, Death Toll Rises to 13 and Likely Rise

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Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

Kinnaur-The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was resumed on Thursday morning. The wreckage of the ill-fated bus of the HP Road Transport Corporation was found 500 meters below the road and about 200 meters above the Sutlej River. The pictures showed that the bus was completely crushed and torn to pieces. 

So far, 13 dead bodies had been recovered and 14 injured including the driver and the conductor of the HRTC bus, which was on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar, were rescued and taken to hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as the passengers were yet to be traced. According to the driver, there were 25-30 passengers in the bus when it was hit by the landslide. A Bolero SUV alongwith passengers was also missing and was yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

The mishap occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday. The rescue operation was suspended at 9 pm due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult.

Till the suspension of the operation, the rescue teams comprising of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had traced three cars and a tipper.  

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drones too.   

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar.

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