While campaigning in Himachal Pradesh has intensified less than a week ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and a bypoll on May 7, people residing along the turbulent Sutlej river are living in fear of floods.
Residents of this village, a trading centre on the national highway connecting Kalka ro Kaurik in Kinnaur district, have still not forgotten the wrath of the floods in 2005, when gushing waters of the river swept away houses, shops and vehicles.
To express their worry, a group of residents met chief minister Virbhadra Singh during his day-long election campaign in his home constituency Rampur recently.
After welcoming the CM, the dele gates requested him to get expedited the embankment of the Satluj river on the road junction leading to Taklech and Rampur.
“My house, shops and one truck were swept away when the Sutlej was flooded in 2005. Only you can save us from the wrath of the Sutlej river,” 55-year-old Gopal Negi, a local resident, pleaded with Virbhadra, who assured him of redress after the elections.
A breach in the glacial lake on the course of Pareechu river in China-controlled Tibet caused flooding in the Sutlej river in July 2005. The lake burst led to 800crore losses along the Sutlej river in Kinnaur and Rampur Bushahr in Shimla district.
“Whenever there are heavy rains, we all begin to fear floods. Last time, some shops were swept away, while others were submerged,” said Hemant, a local resident, adding that stretches of the national highway connecting the border areas with China were damaged at several places between Nogli and Rampur.
“We were not adequately compensated for the losses. At that time, the government gave us immediate relief of 25,000 and 10,000 each to the affected families, but nothing else was given,” alleged resident Ganesh Negi.
“While state government had initiated projects to change the course of the Sutlej river to protect roadside shops, the work has been at a snail’s pace. Last year, the water level rose to flood the region, causing great damage in Kinnaur,” said Hem Raj Singh.