Rain wreaks havoc in Himachal, claiming 71 lives; Shimla shuts schools; CM likening it to a “mountain-like challenge.”

Amid the ongoing rain-related havoc in Himachal Pradesh, a series of significant events have unfolded. The dire situation has prompted the closure of all schools in Shimla. This measure comes as a response to the incessant rain that has unleashed its fury upon the region, resulting in devastating landslides that have tragically claimed the lives of 71 individuals over the course of the past three days. The aftermath of this catastrophe has inflicted an estimated financial loss of ₹75,000 crore upon the state during this year’s monsoon season.

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Attempting to come to terms with the extent of the destruction, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu revealed the daunting reality that the process of rehabilitating the washed-away infrastructure will demand at least a year of dedicated efforts. The chief minister acknowledged that the challenges ahead are indeed reminiscent of scaling a mountain. In another tragic incident, a fresh landslide occurred in Shimla on Tuesday, causing the demise of two individuals. This calamity struck Krishna Nagar in Shimla, causing the collapse of five to seven houses.

Furthermore, the region’s disrupted transportation routes, owing to the frequent landslides, compelled authorities to make the decision to close all educational institutions in Shimla on Thursday.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the state government has made a fervent appeal to the central government to declare a national calamity in Himachal Pradesh. The relentless rainfall in Himachal has surpassed the average for the season. In the span of 54 monsoon days this year, the state has already received 742mm of rainfall, exceeding the typical average of 730mm. Notably, the unprecedented rainfall recorded this past July broke a 50-year record for the month, culminating in one of the most devastating natural calamities the region has faced in half a century.

Addressing the underlying causes of the landslides, Chief Minister Sukhu attributed the disaster to a combination of faulty structural designs and indiscriminate construction practices. Outsider architects who lack an understanding of the scientifically informed methods required for construction in hilly terrains have contributed to this issue. Despite the perils posed by these architectural oversights, several old multi-storied government buildings stand tall, unscathed by the dangers that have befallen other structures.

Shifting the focus to Uttarakhand, the torrential rains have claimed the lives of 10 individuals, compounded by destructive landslides. The administration has been working relentlessly to rescue 293 stranded pilgrims on the trek route to the Madmaheshwar temple since Monday in Rudraprayag. Notably, a devastating landslide struck Lakshman Jhula, burying six people at the Night Paradise Camp resort within its debris.

In neighboring Punjab, the impact of the monsoon’s fury has been felt acutely. The districts of Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, and Rupnagar have all experienced flooding due to the release of excess water from the Bhakra and Pong dams. In response, the Gurdaspur district administration has declared holidays in both government and private schools within flood-hit villages until further notice. Similarly, authorities in Rupnagar have announced the suspension of classes in schools and Anganwadi centers within the affected areas for the dates August 17-18.

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