Himachal limps back to normalcy as monsoon withdraws; State govt. spending ₹4,500 crore

Heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh led to the deaths of over 500 people, and a cumulative loss exceeding ₹9,000 crore

Updated - October 07, 2023 06:02 pm IST

Published - October 07, 2023 04:40 pm IST - Chandigarh

Rescuers remove mud and debris as they search for people feared trapped after a landslide on the outskirts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Rescuers remove mud and debris as they search for people feared trapped after a landslide on the outskirts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. | Photo Credit: AP

The southwest monsoon, which wrought havoc in Himachal Pradesh this season, triggering incidents of cloud bursts, flash floods, and landslides has completely withdrawn from the State, even as the hill State is limping back to normalcy.

The monsoon withdrew from the hill State with a delay of 12 days on October 6 from its normal date of departure i.e. September 24, and saw 21% excess monsoon rainfall this year, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) at Shimla.

The relentless monsoon that started on June 24, this year in Himachal Pradesh brought the State to its knees, leaving as many as 509 people dead in the rain-related incidents, besides 39 people were still missing till October 5. Over 15,000 houses were damaged, which left thousands of families homeless. The State had suffered a cumulative loss exceeding ₹9,712.50 crore, according to the State’s Emergency Operation Centre.

To aid the families affected by the incessant rains Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu led government last week announced a special relief package, under which the compensation amount for the struggling families has been increased by up to 25 times against the prevailing norms. The state government is spending a total of ₹4,500 crore to deal with the disaster, out of which ₹750 crore is being spent for restoration and rehabilitation and ₹1,000 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).

With loss estimates still coming in, the Chief Minister has pegged the State’s loss over ₹12,000 crore. He even demanded the Centre government to declare the State’s catastrophe as ‘national disaster’ and give a specially tailored relief package, even as the State government declared the entire Himachal Pradesh as a Natural Disaster Affected Area on August 18, 2023.

Surender Paul, IMD director at Shimla said that the earliest withdrawal of monsoon in Himachal Pradesh was in the year 2001 on September 18 that year, while the most delayed was in the year 2019 on October 11. The Solan district received 77% more than normal rain in the monsoon season between June 24 till October 6, while the Lahaul-Spiti district recorded 39% less rain than usual.

The train service on the UNESCO World Heritage Shimla-Kalka railway track resumed earlier this week after it remained suspended for close to three months, after the track got damaged at different places following landslips etc., amid heavy rains.

Tourists have also started to head towards the hill state. Rajesh Sharma, who runs a budget hotel in Totu sub-urban area of Shimla, said that the situation is improving now and business has started to pick up.

“The heavy rains and disruption of road and rail links had taken a toll on our business, but now gradually things are improving. With the railway track (Shimla-Kalka) and national highways through, tourists have started to visit the State again. The occupancy at my hotel was almost nil till a few days ago but now it’s close to 50%. We are limping back to normalcy” he said.

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