Monsoon damage still troubles tribal Kinnaur in Himachal

Shimla: Damages from the heaviest rains in living memory that the high altitude district of Kinnaur, bordering Tibet, recorded in June-September are still being felt as the moisture in the lose strata percolates to base rocks which in turn is threatening huge slips and mountain sides to cave in.

With a portion of the district headquarters under threat from caving in, SK Chaudhary, deputy commissioner of Kinnaur said, “some area here at Reckong Peo has been declared unsafe and buildings both private and public have been evacuated as the land is slowly sinking into a funnel type shape.”

He said that one block of a college building, a hostel for girls, buildings housing government offices, a market area and some private buildings have developed cracks and are slowly caving in. The area has been declared unsafe and cleared of occupants.

A seven member inter-ministerial central team that visited Himachal recently took stock of the rain damages in districts of Kinnaur, Shimla, Solan and Sirmaur.

The after effects of the 535 mm of rains recorded in Kinnaur between 1 June and 23 September is alarming as the whole geology in the region has destabilized, said one member of the central team.

A state report that has assessed the rain damages states that the habitations of Chhitkul, Rakchham, Tangling, Kamru, Sapni in Sangla valley and Ramni, Kachrang, Nathpa, Bari, Miru and Chagaon in Bhaba valley in Kinnaur have become geologically unstable.

The village of Geu, in upper Kinnaur where a mummified body of monk was discovered in the 1980’s, was also in danger of sinking.

Excess discharge into Satluj River and its tributaries had cut and eroded banks dangerously which was threatening many habitations. National Highway – 22 that runs along the river was unstable at several points and a major bridge at Akpa on the highway was threatened.

Putting the rain loss for the entire state at Rs 1793.37 crore, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, “Many of the tribal, difficult and backward areas had remained cut off from rest of the world for some time. Cost of temporary restoration and relief has been very high. Though we have already spent Rs 123.70 crores but for complete restoration and repairing of all damaged roads, the expenditure involved is very heavy.”

He pointed out that damages in an around Karchham-Sangla, Chitkul, Kupvi-Haripurdhar and Rohru-Dodra Kawar was intense and roads could only be opened by deploying heavy machinery.

Spokesman of the central team that was led by Shambhu Singh, a joint secretary in the ministry of home, which for three days did an aerial survey and a spot inspection said, “Our survey has taken into account the extensive damages suffered particularly in Kinnaur and Shimla. The report under preparation will reflect it.”

Besides the 62 lives lost due to rain related accidents, the state report mentions damage to 6656 houses, 17,682 Km of road length which include 45 bridges, 3846 drinking water supply schemes and damage to standing horticulture and agriculture crops.

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