Three NDRF teams rushed to flash flood-affected regions of Himachal Pradesh

By PTI
NEW DELHI: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rushed three teams to conduct rescue-and-search operations in the flash flood-affected regions in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Monday.

The teams were sent after heavy rains hit many parts of the district and several people were reported stranded near Boh and Tatwani villages, an official spokesperson said.

Three teams have been dispatched from the regional response centre of the NDRF located at Nurpur in Kangra, he added.

One team has reached Tatwani after overcoming difficulties caused by landslides and has launched search-and-rescue operations there, the official said.

The other two teams are expected to reach the affected areas soon.

An NDRF team usually has 47 personnel, and they are equipped with life-saving equipment, inflatable boats and tree and pole cutters.

The central force has pre-deployed a total of 112 teams across the country in view of the ongoing monsoon rains and flood season.

Additional teams are on alert at the NDRF base in Bathinda (Punjab) and a control room is operational at the force headquarters here that is monitoring the situation round-the-clock, he said.

Flash flood triggered by heavy rains swept away buildings and cars at tourist spots as bad weather also led to the closure of the airport here.

The district administration also instructed tourists to postpone their visit to Dharamsala in view of the heavy rains.

A drain near Bhagsu Nag in upper Dharamsala adjoining Mecleodganj changed its course owing to heavy rains, sweeping away four cars and several bikes, video clips showed.

A government school building at Bhagsunag was also damaged and adjacent hotels there were inundated, it showed.

“Due to inclement weather and heavy rains, all incoming flights to Dharamshala airport at Gaggal have been cancelled,” said airport’s traffic in-charge Gaurav Kumar.

Owing to flash flood at Manjhi Khad area adjoining Dharamsala, two buildings were swept away while several others were reported to be damaged, the video clips.

The flash floods also damaged a bridge on the Mandi-Pathankot highway after which traffic was stopped on both sides, leading to a traffic jam.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi,”The situation in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy rains is being closely monitored. Authorities are working with the State Government. All possible support is being extended. I pray for the safety of those in affected areas.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday to take stock of the situation arising due to the floods in several districts of the state and assured him all possible help from the Centre.

Thakur also expressed concern over the losses due to heavy rain and directed the administrations of various districts to ensure speedy relief and rescue operation in the affected areas.

He also urged the local people and tourists to refrain from going near the river banks to avoid any untoward incident.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Nipun Jindal said, “All the tourists visiting Dharamsala have been instructed to postpone their tour so that they do not face any kind of inconvenience.”

He said the tourists who have already arrived in Dharamsala and its surrounding places have also been advised to stay where they are as roads etc. have also been damaged due to heavy rains, which may cause problems in their movement.

The district administration is also making elaborate arrangements for the safety of the tourists staying in Dharamsala and its surrounding areas, he said.

In case of any problem, they can contact the toll free number 1077 of the disaster control room, he said.

“Instructions have also been given to people to not go to sensitive places prone to landslides. Some people have also been shifted to safer places due to flood conditions in some areas of the district.”

Officials have been directed to complete relief and rehabilitation immediately, he said, adding that control rooms have also been set up and steps have also been taken to make the weather forecast available to people.

Jindal said according to the Meteorological Department forecast, heavy rain on July 13 as well as from July 14 to 16 has been predicted.

Keeping this in mind, orders have been issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005 to district officers of all the departments in Kangra district to remain alert.