By Tsering Dhundup
Incessant rain and flash floods in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh since the weekend has led to extensive damage to the region’s infrastructure, rendering numerous roads impassable and leaving many residents stranded. Tragically, the rising water levels in the Beas River have resulted in landslides and flash floods across several districts, leading to the loss of multiple lives.
One of the severely affected is the Yolukhoe Tibetan settlement, a cluster Tibetan community in the Kullu region near Manali, where the floodwaters have wreaked havoc along the riverbanks. The deluge has swept away 19 houses out of approximately 60 households, while numerous other residences remain submerged under a dangerous mixture of water and sand. Displaced families from the affected houses have sought shelter in nearby schools and farms as they grapple with the aftermath of this catastrophic event. Fortunately, there were no reported human casualties in the settlement. Rinchen, a resident of Yolukhoe, described the situation as grim and dire and reported that the Tibetan community living abroad has stepped forward to provide financial assistance to the affected residents.
Speaking to Phayul, Tsultrim Dorjee, the Welfare Officer of Kullu Manali shed light on the unfolding disaster. He revealed that the floods began on July 8th, following incessant rainfall that started on July 6th. The torrential downpours have made all roads impassable, cutting off the affected settlements from essential services such as electricity and water for the past four days. Due to road closures, the situation in nearby Tibetan settlements, such as Patlikul and 15 Mile, where 15 Tibetan families reside, remains unknown. In response, the Department of Home of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) promptly allocated a sum of 5 lakh rupees for emergency relief efforts.
The flash floods and landslides have not only impacted the Tibetan settlements but have also disrupted the region as a whole. The national highway between Kullu and Manali has been blocked by the flooded Peace River and landslides at various locations. The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) reported a total of 736 blocked roads in the state, with Mandi district having the highest number at 172, followed by 122 in Shimla and 120 in Kullu. The power supply has also been severely impacted, with 1,743 distribution transformer regions experiencing disruptions.
As the rain subsides and water levels recede, the devastating floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh have left a trail of destruction, causing significant infrastructure damage and leading to loss of lives and displacement of families. Government authorities and relief organizations are working tirelessly to restore essential services, provide emergency relief aid, and assess the full extent of the damage. In the face of this natural disaster, the affected Tibetan settlements are demonstrating remarkable resilience and determination as they embark on the challenging journey of recovery and rebuilding their lives.
The hill state has suffered a loss of approximately four thousand crores due to heavy incessant rains and floods. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 20 people have lost their lives, and the damage continues to escalate. At least 80 roads in Himachal Pradesh have been destroyed, severely hampering transportation across the state. Additionally, more than 200 houses have been damaged by the heavy rainfall.
In response to the devastating situation, fourteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in the state to conduct rescue operations and provide assistance to the affected population. Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, virtually presided over a review meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) on Monday. During the meeting, he assessed the situation and issued necessary directives to the authorities, as stated in an official release.
To accurately evaluate the extent of the damages caused by the floods and landslides, Chief Minister Sukhu directed a committee headed by Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi to convene a meeting promptly. He also urged all Deputy Commissioners to remain vigilant for the next 10 days and provide all possible assistance to the affected individuals and communities.
The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made a donation to relief efforts while expressing his deep sadness with prayers for the victims of recent flash floods and landslides including those who have lost their lives and those who suffered losses due to severe destruction of infrastructure in the state.