M A I N   N E W S

Hindustan-Tibet road washed away at several places
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Villagers collect logs of timber brought by the raging Sutlej at Kalyan village near Mandi on Monday.
Villagers collect logs of timber brought by the raging Sutlej at Kalyan village near Mandi on Monday.
Portion of houses washed away by the torrents at Nogli village, near Rampur, on Monday.
Portion of houses washed away by the torrents at Nogli village, near Rampur, on Monday. — Photographs by PTI and Manoj Mahajan

Rampur, June 27
An unprecedented rise in temperatures — reaching upto 33 degrees in this area — seems to have caused the ice caps in this remote Himalayan region to melt thus rapidly bringing down torrents of water causing devastation in these areas in the last 24 hours.

It has been confirmed that the flood had been brought by water coming down the Spiti river which joins the Sutlej at Khab, about 160 km away.

The swirling waters could have been the result of fast melting of ice caps in India as well as Tibet. The day time temperatures rose to an unprecedented 33 degrees Celsius in the area in the last week. The peaks in this region had witnessed a high level of snow last winter and excess melt was expected.

Interestingly, the Pareechu river, where a lake was formed last year when a landslide blocked the river’s path, feeds the Spiti.

Even as the official machinery is working to find out the cause, a flooded Sutlej has left the crucial Hindustan — Tibet road punctured at several places in Rampur and Kinnaur. The damage may take more than four months to repair said an official of the Border Roads Organisation working to cut a mountain to make way for the vehicles to pass just 5 km short of Rampur.

The movement of vehicles has been hit. About 500 tourists are stranded. Some of them have been caught at locations where the vehicles cannot move either way as the road has been washed away on both sides. In Rampur and just north of it, a raging Sutlej has washed away homes, trees and shops. Drinking water supply lines have been damaged.

The river rose by 40 feet yesterday washing away everything. Water also entered homes in Braugh across Rampur on the right bank of the river.

Kushal Deep Verma of Rampur said: “The bridge between Rampur and Jagat Khana has been washed away. Reports reaching here said water also entered the Samdoh camp of the Army last evening. This is the last village on the Indian side.

The Natpha-Jhakri power project located 25 km upstream on the Sutlej is closed since Saturday evening. The machines and turbines are safe but cannot be started as the silt level in the water is 30,000 particles per million (PPM). This needs to be 5,000 PPM or less to operate the turbines. The General Manager, Mr J.K. Sharma, said “We cannot say when the silt level will go down to start the 1500 megawatt project.”

This was the second major flood in Sutlej, the last one being in August 2002 when 25 bridges were washed away and more than 100 persons died.



6 bodies spotted in Sutlej
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The bodies of six persons, believed to be Chinese civilians, were spotted in the raging Sutlej by Indian Army personnel near Sumdoh in Himachal Pradesh, about 6 km from the international border.

Army officers said these bodies had been swept into India by flashfloods in Parchu river yesterday. Parchu enters India from Tibet and joins the Sutlej. The Chinese authorities have been informed about this.

“There is no civilian population along the Sutlej ahead of Sumdoh. Since neither Army detachments nor the Indian Tibetan Border Police has reported any casualties, we believe that these bodies floated in from across the border,” a senior officer said. There are three Tibetan villages along the banks of Parchu near the international border.



250 passengers stranded, bad weather hits rescue
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 27
About 250 tourists, including some foreigners, were stranded at various places as the collapse of major bridges and breaches on the National Highway-22 cut off two-thirds of the area in the flood-ravaged Kinnaur district.

Besides, a large number of electric poles were washed away between Karcham and Pooh plunging more than half of the district into darkness.

The total loss on an account of damage to public and private property has been estimated at Rs 700 to Rs 800 crore.

Bad weather hampered the relief and rescue operations and the choppers of the Indian Air Force could make only two sorties to evacuate 14 persons from Peo and Pooh.

Out of these, six were foreigners. Foreign tourists were mostly stranded in Sangla, Pooh and between Sumdoh and Khab.

Reports said six foreigners were stranded at Hango near Youngthang. They were asked to trek through the Hango pass and reach Pooh so that they could be airlifted. About 150 stranded tourists have approached the administration for evacuation.

Telecom network had been disrupted due to the snapping of optical fibre cable. However, mobile phones were proving handy in dealing with the situation.

Out of the total 27 bridges on the Sutlej river from Sumdoh to Suni, as many as 8 had been washed away and of the 11 spans (jhulas) 10 had been wiped out.

Vast stretches of the National Highway had been either washed away or extensively damaged at seven places between Karcham and Sumdoh.

Besides, the base of the road had been eroded by floodwater at many places, which could destabilise some portions.

Restoration work was being carried out on a war footing and by evening, the road, which had been breached at Neogli and Kali Mitti, was opened to traffic. However, the portion beyond Karcham would take a long time as bridges would have to be erected afresh.

Electricity had been restored upto Karcham and Pooh and the Youngthang. However, the rest of the district between Karcham and Pooh would have to go without electricity for some days as most of the areas were inaccessible by road.

Mr Sat Mahajan, Revenue Minister, said the field staff had been asked to assess the damage to private property and agricultural land so that relief could be provided to the affected families.

Repair of the old Hindustan-Tibet road had been started to provide alternative to the flood-ravage National Highway. The portion between Tapri and Akpa would be made travel worthy over the next one week.

Spans were being installed at the places where bridges had been washed away for the convenience of the local people.

He said liaison officers had been deployed at Tapri, Karcham, Akpa, Spilo and Leo with wireless sets to supervise relief operations.

As on today, 11,500 quintal of rice ,2,500 quintal of wheat, 1250 quintal of wheat flour and 323 quintals of edible oil ,29,000 litres of kerosene and 1968 cooking gas refills were in stock in Kinnaur.

Today, two trucks of cooking gas refills were despatched which would be taken on headload in the cut off areas. Kerosene stoves were being provided so that in case people ran out of cooking gas, they could manage with kerosene.


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