NDRF personnel conduct rescue operation at the flooded Yamuna Bazar area, in New Delhi on Thursday (ANI)

Heavy rainfall causes extensive damage across the North and East of the country. Even as politicians exchange barbs, ordinary folks bear the brunt of rising water and failing infrastructure

Our Bureau
New Delhi/Shimla/Kolkata

There is no let up from falling rain and havoc it is causing across the country, especially in the North and East. All states are facing the ferocity or rains and how it has disrupted normal life and livelihoods.

The heavy rainfall and floods have given another jolt to the tourism business in Himachal Pradesh which was recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A hotelier said the rainfall has adversely affect the tourism business. “There is 100pc loss to the tourism business. I run hotels in Shimla, Kasauli, and Manali. In most places, there is no road connectivity due to floods and rain. Those tourists are in a state of fear. This is another jolt to our tourism business after Covid”, said hotelier Rajinder Singh Thakur.

Thakur added, “We were just trying to revive the tourism business and this rain and flood has hit us. The tourists have canceled the advance bookings which they had done for the next three months in the state. We don’t have even a single hotel room occupied these days.”

Owing to torrential rainfall in the state, 91 people have lost their lives from June 24 to July 13, according to an official statement.

In the national capital Delhi, amid the decreasing water level of Yamuna River in Delhi on Friday, several parts of the national capital are still facing waterlogging and flooding, affecting traffic movements. Commuters were seen pushing their motorcycles through the waters on ITO road while a massive traffic snarl was witnessed at NH-24 near Sarai Kale Khan T-Junction in Delhi.

However, the water level of Yamuna River at Old Railway Bridge (ORB) was recorded at a level slightly lower than that recorded at 9 am. While it was 208.40 meters at 9 am, it was recorded at 208.38 meters at 10 am today.

The ongoing flooding woes in the national capital brought Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, who have been trading barbs in the recent past, together as the two briefed the media jointly on the prevailing situation, saying, “We need to work as a team”.

Flanked by CM Kejriwal, ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj, L-G Saxena on Friday inspected a flooded stretch near Vikas Bhawan, ITO where a drain regulator was damaged. The L-G was responding to minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, who said the NDRF team reached the spot only on Friday, even after several requests to the officers last night.

“Thank you, the situation would have been better had the NDRF reached the spot last night itself,” Bharadwaj said.

L-G Saxena said, “I would like to tell you that this is not the time to report to a blame game or point fingers at each other. Right now, we need to work as a team. I, too, can say a lot of things but this isn’t what we should do at this time.”

Meanwhile, at the joint press briefing, CM Kejriwal said people, who have been grappling with flooding woes over the last couple of days, will get a measure of respite soon, as the rising waters of the Yamuna was receding slowly but surely.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Delhi’s Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Atishi said the water level of the Yamuna was receding gradually at a rate of 0.1 meter and will it take another day for normalcy to be restored.

Atishi said no individual could be blamed for the prevailing situation as it is the fallout of incessant and heavy rainfall over North India.

In West Bengal, responding promptly to a requisition by the civil administration, troops of the Indian Army rescued 72 villagers, including 24 children from Mechpara village near Hashimara in Jalpaiguri, who were stuck due to floods, according to the press release of the Indian Army.

“The rapid flow of the Kaljani River led to the flooding of Mechpara village and the washing of the only bridge connecting Mechpara with the main highway. Responding promptly to a requisition by the civil administration, troops of the Kripan Division of Trishakti Corps acted promptly and rushed to the site. Although the fast-flowing waters posed a huge threat to life, army personnel crossed the river and established a rope crossing to facilitate the movement of villagers to a safe location. With continuous efforts under the heavy rains, the troops evacuated 72 villagers, including 24 children,” it said. Heavy rainfall was witnessed all along North Bengal on the nights of July 12 and 13, which led to the Torsa and Kaljani rivers of Alipur Duar district crossing danger levels.

In Punjab, around 40,000 food packets are being prepared to be supplied to the people in areas affected by floods, Punjab Food Supplies Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak said on Thursday. “CM, our party MLAs, and the chairman are with the people and are taking feedback from them. Around 40,000 food packets are being prepared for supply to people. We are working according to demand. There is nothing to worry about; the government has made complete arrangements,” the minister said. Some areas in Punjab including in Patiala and Sangrur have witnessed flood-like situation due to heavy rainfall.

Meanwhile, in the northeast state of Assam, thousands of people in Basbari area of Bongaigaon district have been affected after the flood waters of Aie River submerged their homes. Many of them have taken shelter on roads and high lands.

The flood waters have damaged several roads and washed away many houses in the area. Many people of Basbari area are facing massive problems include food crisis, drinking water and many of them have become homeless. The locals fear that the flood situation in the area will become more worst after the Kurichu dam authority of Bhutan started releasing excess water on Friday morning.

Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday morning that the Kurichu dam authority started releasing excess water.

Amid heavy rain and flash floods, Northern Railway has suspended train services as a precautionary measure due to the flood-like situation.

The General Manager of the Northern Railway said the flood-like situation, the railways had to stop train services as a precautionary measure. He further said the line from Ambala to Delhi via Saharanpur and Meerut was also closed. On July 11, Delhi Shahdara’s old bridge railway line was also closed due to increasing water levels.

“On July 9, the Kalka-Shimla line was closed. On July 9-10, maximum services were closed in the Ambala division and between the Jalandhar-Firozepur divisions,” he added.

In Uttarakhand, amid persistent rainfall and a breach in the Sonali River dam has raised a threat of floods in the Laksar town of Haridwar district, officials said on Wednesday.

According to officials, the Sonali River dam breached near village Kuan Kheda. Laksar Police Station in-charge Amarjit Singh along with his team immediately reached the spot and alerted the people after receiving information about the breach of the dam.

“The Sonali River flowing through dozens of villages of Laksar swelled. As a result, the Sonali River dam broke down near Kuan Kheda village. As soon as the dam broke, the water of the river started flowing on the other side,” they said.

Earlier today, the Kedarnath Yatra was stopped at Uttarakhand’s Sonprayag and Gaurikund due to continuous heavy rains.

Keeping in view the safety of the passengers, the district administration stopped the passengers at Sonprayag and Gaurikund due to continuous bad weather.

Due to rain, four state roads and 10 link roads were closed due to debris. Due to heavy rains, Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers are in spate, the officials said.

Amid the heavy rains in Uttarakhand, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued an orange alert for July 12 on Monday. “Orange Alert: #Uttarakhand and adjoining areas of Western #UttarPradesh likely to get Heavy to Very heavy rainfall (115.6 to 204.4mm) on 12th July”, IMD shared in a tweet.

In another development, amid the grim situation in Himachal Pradesh due to incessant rainfall, Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) to India, Ohad Nakash Kaynar, along with officials himself, embarked on a rescue mission on Thursday to locate the missing Israeli citizens in the state.

A total of 88 people have lost their lives in the state since June 24 as rain continues to lash Himachal Pradesh, an official statement issued by the state disaster management authority said on Wednesday Taking to Twitter, Kaynar said, “Taking off to #HimachalPradesh to locate the incommunicado Israelis. On the way we saw collapsed roads and mud slides. Nature is sometimes overwhelming”.

“In this video you can see an example of the mudslides and rocks collapsing on the road. This is one of many such instances of natural destruction,” he added in a subsequent tweet. Notably, the Kasol region in Himachal Pradesh is famously called as ‘Mini Israel’, because of the high proportion of tourists here.

There is no sector of economic activity that is left unaffected by the rains. As more rain is likely in the coming days and weeks, the flooding and chaos is far from over.

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