Heavy rainfall has continued to wreak havoc across Himachal Pradesh with cloudbursts, landslides, and the collapse of buildings and roads in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and other areas. Nearly 400 people are dead and more than 12,000 houses damaged so far.
Newslaundry spoke to villagers in Gadsa valley, nearly 60 kilometres from Kullu. “There have been incidents of cloudbursts here and 50 to 60 houses have suffered heavy damage. People have nothing left; never seen such heavy rain before,” said Shyam Sundar, the deputy head of the village, adding that tree-felling and illegal mining had a role to play in the calamity.
All the districts in Himachal are prone to landslides, as per the landslide atlas published by ISRO this year. But construction and mining has also weakened the mountains, including in Gadsa, villagers said.
The financial loss this year, meanwhile, has been equal to what the state suffered over five years between 2017 and 2022. As per the state government’s disaster report, landslides, floods, cloudbursts and similar calamities claimed nearly 6,000 lives while costing the state more than Rs 8,000 crore between 2017 and 2022. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said the state has suffered a loss of more than Rs 10,000 crore this year.
Kullu DC Ashutosh Garg told Newslaundry that more than 2,000 families have been affected due to completely or partially destroyed houses. In Kullu, which is the most affected district, a compensation of Rs 9.05 crore has been given so far and Rs 3.36 crore is yet to be handed out.
But can financial aid bring life back on track?