Flash floods and landslides following heavy downpours in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states have claimed close to 40 lives over the weekend.
In the Northeast, continuous rains for the past few days hit normal life in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and parts of Assam, while the small state of Tripura faced a severe fuel crisis as it remains cut off for nearly 45 days from the rest of the country.
As thousands of trucks and oil tankers are now stranded in Assam’s Karimganj district due to damage of Assam-Agartala National Highway (NH-8), the Tripura government has imposed fuel rationing, the state minister for food and civil supplies, Bhanu Lal Saha said on Sunday.
There were reports of some fuel pumps selling petrol in black for over Rs 200 a litre. According to the fuel rationing system, at one go, two-wheelers will be given only Rs 200 worth of petrol; auto-rickshaws Rs 300 worth of petrol and Rs 500 worth of fuel for cars.
Meanwhile, incessant rains also hampered the rescue and relief efforts in the cloudburst-hit villages of Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand, where the death toll climbed to 27 with nine more death and three more bodies being recovered on Sunday.
The three bodies were recovered from the worst-hit villages of Pithoragarh, taking the toll there to 18. Officials from the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) said around 20 people are still missing, feared dead or buried under the debris, in the affected districts of Pithoragarh and Chamoli.
As manual search of bodies was difficult in the cloudburst-hit villages, the NDRF has deployed a dog squad to sniff out the bodies.
Nine more people died on Sunday as the vehicle they were travelling in plunged into a 200-metre deep gorge at Kalsi block en route to Chakrata hills. The incident took place at around 1 am on Sunday morning when the vehicle was stuck at a landslide area. It fell into the gorge as the driver was trying to cross the landslip. Four other occupants were severely injured and admitted to a hospital at Vikasnagar.
A report from Agartala said the India government would try to use the Bangladesh route to bring petroleum products into Tripura as incessant rainfall had made the state inaccessible from National Highway 8.
“The state government has no issue with the proposal placed by Indian Oil Corporation Limited. However, the final decision will be taken after a meeting between India and Bangladesh officials,” minister Bhanulal Saha said.
“A long stretch of the Assam-Agartala (NH 8) at Lowerpoa in Karimganj district of Assam is badly damaged and thousands of trucks carrying essential commodities and fuel are stranded. So, we have imposed rationing on use of petrol and diesel,” Saha said.
He said due to slight improvement of roads only ten trucks carrying fuel could enter the state every day but the state requires more than 20 trucks or oil tankers every day. Saha said there is buffer stock of food grains for 55 days.
In Manipur, two days of heavy rain claimed the life of a girl in Churachandpur town, while some low-lying areas of Imphal continued to face flash floods on Sunday owing to the intense downpour in several areas of the state since Friday.
In Assam, most rivers and their tributaries were flowing close to the danger mark, owing to heavy rainfall over the past couple of weeks.
The IMD has predicted more heavy rains in the north and northeast India in the next 24 hours.
(With agency inputs)