When PM Modi dialled Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu to inquire about the impact of heavy rains and floods in the state, it was more than clear that the grim situation caused by the torrential rain in the north was worrying the Centre. A report by Tehelka Bureau
After the PM took note of the alarming situation, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, released an amount of Rs. 7,532 crore to different State Governments for the respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF). The amount has been released as per the recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In the wake of heavy rains across the country, the guidelines have been relaxed and the amount has been released as immediate assistance to States without waiting for the utilisation certificate of the amount provided to the States in the last financial year.
The extensive damage caused by the monsoon’s fury has exposed the authorities’ lack of disaster preparedness. It’s apparent that they have been caught off-guard despite a series of orange, yellow and red alerts issued by the Meteorological Department. Even a ‘smart city’ like Chandigarh was waterlogged in no time leading to many cause-way bridges’ giving way. In Punjab and Haryana, extensive loss has been caused to crops and property. In the hills, the unregulated construction activity has rendered the hills and valleys increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events.
Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu informed the Prime Minister that the calamity had tragically resulted in the loss of 17 lives and widespread destruction, with property worth thousands of crore being swept away. Highlighting the impact of torrential rains on Himachal Pradesh, the chief minister said that the lives of many residents across the state had been severely affected. Over 500 tourists have been stranded in various parts of the state after rain-induced landslides cut off access to the areas.
Even in the national capital region, the heaviest showers in 40 years marooned the region and killed four people. The Capital received a little over 261mm of rain, crushing houses, uprooting trees and inundating localities. The weather office said that the unprecedented rainfall is due to the confluence of a western disturbance and monsoonal winds. In fact the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy, very heavy, and extremely heavy rainfall in 23 states in the country. A red alert has been issued in Uttarakhand while extremely heavy rainfall is expected in West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Meghalaya.
The River Yamuna in Delhi has breached the danger mark of 205.33 metres and the water level continues to rise. In Haryana and Punjab, after three days of heavy rain, special teams have been deployed to assess the damage and to provide food, water, and shelter to those who have been displaced.
Heavy rain and falling boulders killed four people and injured seven others in Uttarakhand. The boulders tumbled down the hills and crushed three vehicles that were passing by. An orange alert has been sounded in the state with Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami saying that his administration remains “on full alert”.
In Jammu, the Amarnath Yatra has been suspended for the time being in a row due to damage to the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in the Ramban section. The highway was closed after heavy rain caused landslides. As a result, 15,000 pilgrims are stranded in Jammu and other places.
The weather office has forecast more heavy rain for several states in north India, including Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, with the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deployed to assist in the relief and rescue operations. The NDRF has deployed 39 teams to the affected states.