M A I N   N E W S

Bridge washed away
*Flash floods wreak havoc in Kinnaur, Spiti valley
*Many vehicles stranded, tourists evacuated
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

A 300-foot bridge on the Hindustan-Tibet road was washed away by flashflood in the Raldang nullah triggered by a cloud burst near Ribba village in Pooh subdivision in Kinnaur district
A 300-foot bridge on the Hindustan-Tibet road was washed away by flashflood in the Raldang nullah triggered by a cloud burst near Ribba village in Pooh subdivision in Kinnaur district on Thursday. Tribune photo by Kulwinder Sandhu

Ribba (Kinnaur), August 3
Adverse weather conditions in the monsoon season continues to wreak havoc in the far-flung areas of Kinnaur and Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh creating panic among the tribal people. Most of the areas of Kinnaur and almost the whole of Spiti valley was still cut off by road for the past many days.

A 30-foot concrete bridge constructed recently on the Hindustan-Tibet road over Raldang Nullah here was washed away in a flash flood early this morning. Another Bailey bridge constructed in the village on this nullah was also partially damaged, said a local resident. The flash flood in the nullah was triggered by a cloudburst late last night.

The road on the Himalayas strategically vital from the defence point of view was once again cut-off beyond this point for the flow of traffic. Earlier, it was cut off from near Spillo village and Malling nullah due to cloudbursts last month. The damaged point near Spillo was repaired while the traffic from Malling nullah was still restricted for heavy vehicles.

When this correspondent reached the site of bridge collapse this morning, the labour force of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) was busy in setting up wooden logs on the nullah enabling hundreds of people stranded on both sides to pass through the damaged portion.

Many vehicles, including buses, have got stranded on both sides of the damaged road. An official of the state transport department said they had made transit-shipment arrangement at this point so that passengers, including hundreds of foreign tourists, who got stranded on both sides do not suffer.

The Assistant Executive Engineer of the 68 RCC of GREF, Mr H.S. Ghotra, who was on the spot said a total of about 60 metres of the road stretch, including the concrete bridge, had been completely damaged in the flash flood.

Colonel ML Kom, Officer Commanding of GREF, said efforts had been initiated to fill-up the damaged road stretch with huge boulders and rocks so that the traffic could be restored at the earliest possible time. However, it would take few weeks to construct a new bridge on this site, the officer added.

Meanwhile, moderate to heavy rainfall continuing for the past many days in the cold desert has caused widespread damage to public and private property. As many as eight houses in the villages of Hikim, Komic and Lagcha have been partially damaged due to heavy rainfall during the past 24 hours. There has also been loss to standing crop of peas and other vegetables in these villages. However, exact loss could only be ascertained after a survey being conducted by the local revenue authorities.

As many as 100 foreign tourists who were trapped on the Antragu-Mooh link road in the valley due to an avalanche since yesterday have been evacuated safely by the civil authorities with the help of local people. However, many commercial vehicles carrying essential commodities were still stranded. A portion of the link road has been damaged disrupting traffic from both the sides.

Reports from Lahaul valley revealed that a bridge over Challing nullah in Miar area was washed away yesterday evening in the flash flood that was triggered by a cloudburst. As many as 50 persons of Challing village have been trapped on the other side. They had taken refuge in Urgose village.

With this incident, the road link to many villages, including Challing, Shakoto, Lower Challing, Middle Challing, Upper Challing and Khanjar had been cut-off from the rest of the country. The local administration of Udaipur subdivision has initiated a rescue operation besides making efforts to restore the road link.

The water flow of Sutlej has increased to an alarming situation during the past 24 hours creating panic among the tribal people of Kinnaur. GREF officials said that the water level of the river at their base camp in Powari had risen to more than 10-feet this morning, which is the highest level of water after the flash floods of the year 2000 under normal conditions in the monsoon period.

Mr Devinder Wadhera, Deputy General Manager (Communications) of the Sutlej Jal Vidhyut Nigam (SJVN) said the water discharge of Sutlej and Spiti rivers combined together at Khab in Pooh sub-division this morning was above 900 cumecs, which is the highest under normal conditions of the monsoon period during the past many years. The silt content of Sutlej here at Khab this morning was more than 30,000 PPM while the water in Spiti was far much clear at just 3,500 PPM.





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