HP worst-hit as rains continue to batter north India; PM takes stock of situation

New Delhi: As torrential rains wreaked havoc in north India for another day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday spoke with senior ministers and officials to take stock of the situation while Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge sought relief from the PM CARES Fund for the rain-hit states.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting to discuss waterlogging caused by torrential rains in the city and Yamuna’s rising water levels, officials said.

Several rivers, including the Yamuna in Delhi, in north India are in spate. In cities and towns across the region, many roads and residential areas were submerged in knee-deep water with the civic system unable to hold on in the face of record rains on Sunday.

The prime minister spoke with senior ministers and officials and took stock of the situation in the wake of excessive rainfall in parts of the country, his office said.

Local administrations, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams are working to ensure the well-being of those affected, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“PM @narendramodi spoke to senior ministers and officials, and took stock of the situation in the wake of excessive rainfall in parts of India. Local administrations, NDRF and SDRF teams are working to ensure the well-being of those affected,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a tweet.

Twenty people stranded in Himachal Pradesh’s tourist town of Manali were rescued but about 300 others were stranded across various parts of the hill state as heavy rain wreaked havoc for the third day on Monday.

The state is bracing for another day of downpours with the meteorological department issuing a “red” alert for “extremely heavy rain” on Monday, a day after heavy rain pounded the state, triggering landslides, damaging houses and leaving several people dead.

Officials said rail operations on the Shimla-Kalka route, a UNESCO world heritage site, have been suspended till Tuesday as landslides blocked the track at several places while educational institutions across the state were ordered to remain shut on Monday and Tuesday.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, in a video released on Monday morning, appealed to the people to avoid venturing out in heavy rains, especially near rivers and nullahs, and remain vigilant for the next 24 hours as the Met department has warned of heavy rains to continue.

He also asked all the MLAs to stay in their respective constituencies and help the people in this hour of distress. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday asked the Centre to make available additional relief from the PM CARES Fund for states affected by the torrential rain pounding several parts of north India, including Himachal Pradesh.

A day after 19 people were killed in landslides and other rain-related incidents, the Congress president also spoke to Sukhu to express his concern.

“The death of several people in north India due to heavy rains is sad and painful. Have talked to the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh. Relief efforts in the state have picked up and every effort is being made despite bad weather, to take people affected by heavy rains to safer places,” Kharge said in a tweet in Hindi.

He said teams of the State Disaster Response Force and National Disaster Response Force teams are doing this work.

Adequate compensation will be given to the victims and all possible help will be given to compensate for the loss of life and property, the Congress chief said.

The meeting called by Kejriwal was held at the Delhi Secretariat. It was attended by senior officials of the Irrigation and Flood Control department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

The Yamuna inched closer to the warning mark in Delhi as Haryana released more water into the river from the Hathnikund barrage amid persistent rains in the upper catchment areas.

The Pragati Maidan tunnel in the national capital was closed for traffic on Monday due to congestion caused by waterlogging on the stretch, officials said.

Rains battered parts of Punjab and Haryana for the third consecutive day on Monday with authorities working round the clock to reach out to people in the worst-hit places in hours of crisis. According to the meteorological department, it has been raining in many parts of Punjab and Haryana since morning.

In view of the prevailing situation caused due to incessant rains, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar cancelled all his pre-scheduled programmes for the day and summoned an emergency meeting of senior officials of various departments, including Home, Disaster Management and Urban Local Bodies, officials said.

Punjab’s Patiala district was reeling under a flood-like situation following heavy monsoon rainfall, with authorities seeking the Army’s assistance to combat the escalating crisis, officials said on Monday.

Floodwaters entered the premises of the Rajpura Thermal Power Plant here, leading to the shutdown of one of its 700 MW units, they said.

Authorities have also deployed the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams for relief and rescue work as the district grapples with rising water levels.

The Army’s assistance was sought by the Patiala district administration after water overflowed from the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in Rajpura town following a breach, the officials said.

Also, as many as 800 students from a private university in the district were successfully rescued with the assistance of the Army, he said.

Four people stuck on an island in the swollen Narmada river near Bhedaghat in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur district were rescued by the NDRF after a more than 13-hour operation, police said.

They got stuck on the island following a sudden rise in the Narmada river level due to heavy rainfall in the upstream areas.