Rain havoc in Uttarakhand, HP
Torrential rains this week shut down large parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and disrupted life in huge chunks of the two hill states. Massive landslides cut off arterial highways and thousands of tourists who had driven up to escape the muggy heat were left stranded. The NH-108, linking Uttarkashi to Yamunotri and Gangotri, was blocked at several patches with mounds of rubble on the tarmac. Along with this highway, which is the main supply route for Uttarakhand, the same weather system left the Kullu valley crippled, cutting it off from the rest of Himachal. Most towns and villages across Uttarakhand are practically islands with no connectivity between them. People are marooned at several points. Those who have urgent work are left with no option but to walk, sometimes for 30-40 km. Stranded tourists have had to trek for 12 hours to the nearest town to find shelter. With over 50 landslides spread between Chamba in Tehri Garhwal district and Chinyali Saud, 65km further up the highway, residents feared they would remain marooned for a long time. Although the rain had tapered off, there was no visible urgency to reopen the roads. Less than 10 bulldozers and excavators were being used to clear the mess spread in the 95-km stretch from Chamba to Uttarkashi. A handful of Border Roads Organization (BRO) employees, seen working at a few of the several landslide spots, were clueless about the condition of the road afew kilometers beyond.