In Himachal’s Kinnaur district, which too faced the wrath of flash floods, the scene is no different. Several tourists are stranded, roads are blocked, power and water supply cut and many lives have been lost.
When HT spoke to chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who himself was stranded during the catastrophe, he blamed it on mother nature.
“All preparations for disaster management fail against nature’s fury, but the government’s top priority is to protect the lives of the people trapped in the affected areas,” he said while explaining as to why the disaster management failed to work in such an emergency.
He added that it was not a human fault or failure of the disaster management committee.
Kinnaur witnessed mass destruction of property all along the river bank including houses, bridges and roads.
“I personally witnessed helplessness and devastating moments as I was stranded in Sangla for more than 48 hours. I saw how members of the Rapid Action Force, police, Air Force and the Army saved the lives of people in difficult and dangerous situations,” he recalled.
Singh said, “The state government has funds and teams to rescue affected people, but what can be done when there is no electricity and connectivity of roads and no space left even to land helicopters.”
He said Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the union ministry of home affairs had assured the state of all possible help.
He said though the actual loss of property and lives could be estimated only after the conditions improved, preliminary reports suggest put loss of property at R50 crore.
“The state depends a lot on Centre’s funding in disaster management and rescue and relief operations. We also get help from the Army, Air Force and paramilitary forces,” he added.