Heavy rains leave a trail of destruction in Himachal

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Recent heavy rains across much of Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur hills have left a trail of damage and destruction to private and public property behind, affecting even generation at hydro power plants and disrupting road traffic in many places that stalled marketing operations of apple growers in peak harvest time.

Two places in Kinnaur, one in interior of Shimla hills and the Parvati catchment area in Kullu received more rain than normal that led to overflowing of narrow streams and causing flash floods downstream.

Yesterday a boulder that fell onto a government bus killed three people, swollen streams either washed away much agricultural lands or buried under them under heavy silt, irrigation and drinking water schemes have been damaged and at one place two vehicles were washed away. Residents of some villages in Kinnaur spent the night at safer places, fearing that the overflowing streams might wash away their houses.

Kinnaur district magistrate, M Sudha Devi, over phone said all communication lines to Ribsa, Tangi had been cut off and efforts were on to restore foot bridges that had been washed off. In Sangla valley, where the other flash flood had occurred, two small commercial establishments had been washed and the damage was being assessed, she said.

In Shimla district, the Rampur to Rohru road was severely damaged at two places and movement of goods and people has been affected. Shimla district magistrate Tarun Kapoor said that all efforts were being made to restore road links so that marketing operations of apples were not hindered. He said that many link roads in the apple growing belt had suffered damage. In Kullu, near Manikaran, at the hydro power project site two workers were reported to have been swept away but were rescued.

The Sutlej River was in spate and following heavy slit flows, generation at the 1500 MW Natpha Jhakri project was stopped on Wednesday for 9 hours. Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam spokesman Vijay Verma said that with silt levels crossing 6,000 ppm in the river, it was the first unscheduled showdown of generation at the Jhakri plant, this year.

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