(Feature Image: मनाली में सोलंग नाला के पास सेरा नाले में बादल फटने से आयी बाढ़ का पानी। -प्रेट्र/ The Tribune)
Here is an analysis of cloud burst incidents in Himachal Pradesh during south west monsoon 2022. The first part of the series highlighted the impact of cloud bursts in Uttarakhand and the third and final part would cover the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. SANDRP has been tracking the cloud bursts in West Himalayan states since 2018 and our previous reports for the Himachal Pradesh can be seen here 2021(30 cloud burst incidents); 2020(3 incidents); 2019(16 incidents); 2018(21 incidents).
Cloud burst incidents in Himachal Pradesh in 2022
|SN||Time/ Date||Location/ Affected areas||Streams, Rivers/ Basin||Block, Tehsil/ District||Remarks||Links|
|1||10:00 am 03 May||Kali Mata temple, Chaned||Local stream/ Ravi||Holi/ Chamba||Chamba-Pathankot NH blocked, a temporary shop damaged by sudden flash flood, debris. This incident was not termed as cloud burst in media reports.||Dainik Jagran|
|2||Evening hours 15 June||Shadadhal Forest, Khadiseri village Garsa valley||Khadiseri nullah/ Beas||Bhunter/ Kullu||Homes in Khadseri invaded with sludge, debris. A cattle washed away in flash flood. Bhuntar-Garsa road damaged and closed. Farmlands, orchards impacted. Local were surprised to see flood in dried Khadiseri nullah.||Amar Ujala; Amar Ujala|
|3||15 June||Near Hell village in Tepa panchayat||Local stream/ Ravi||Churah/ Chamba||Corn crops and farmlands damaged. Hailstorm also witnessed in the area.||Punjab Kesari|
|4||Morning hours, 02 July||Karpat, Shakoli, Miyar valley||Karpat, Shakoli, Biggi, Changut nullahs/ Chenab||Udaipur/ Lahaul Spiti||Damages to crops, farmlands, roads. The area had also faced cloud burst destruction in August last year. Flash flood occurred in Karpat nullah again on July 27.||Dainik Jagran Divya Himachal; Dainik Bhaskar|
|5||Evening hours 02 July||Batseri||Tongtongche, Serigache Nullahs/ Baspa river||Sangla/ Kinnaur||Pulse, cash crops including apple orchards damaged in Thaimgarang village apart from four fisheries tank.||Himachal Abhi Abhi; News18; JantaSe Rishta; Pahad Prime|
|6||~06:00 am 06 July||Chojh village, Challal panchayat Manikaran Valley||Chojh nullah, Parbati/ Beas||Kasol/ Kullu||5 people feared washed away apart from 12 mules, 3 camps, 6 cafes, 1 homestay and 1 bridge.||ETv Bharat; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala; The Tribune; Dainik Jagran|
|7||Early morning hours, 06 July||Near Malana HEP dam site||Malana stream, Parbati/ Beas||Kullu/ Kullu||Malana HEP office building damaged. About 25 workers had narrow escape. 4 tin sheds and about 6 mules washed away. Some vehicles at the project site were damaged.||SANDRP|
|8||~02:00 am 07 July||Bhagot village area under Kuhamjhawad panchayat||Pangail nullah; Sheer khad/ Sutlej||Ghumarwin/ Bilaspur||3 homes damaged; 1 vehicle, 1 cowshed, 7 cattle, part of Dadhol-Ladrour under construction road washed away.||Amar Ujala; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala; Dainik Jagran;|
|9||Afternoon hours 09 July||Shilagarh, Pali Panchayat Garsa valley||Hurla nullah and Garsa khad/ Beas||Bhunter/ Kullu||Flash flood destruction along 25km stretch. 1 belly bridge, 3 foot bridges, about 50 goat and sheep washed away. People ran to save their lives. Forest department properties damaged. This was third cloud burst incident in the district in past 25 days.||Amar Ujala; Times of India|
|10||~04:00 pm 09 July||Lunekh village area||Chanju/ Ravi||Churah/ Chamba||This incident happened near Chanju HEP area and Dam gates were opened in the wake of flash flood.||Live Mint; Dainik Bhaskar|
|11||Afternoon hours 09 July||Kudtha village||Gharson/ Ravi||Churah/ Chamba||Water supply scheme damaged. Jal Shakti employees had narrow escape.||Dainik Bhaskar|
|12||Late night hours 16 July||Shivan, Shalouta Panchayat Kumarsain||Local stream/ Sutlej||Kumarsain/ Shimla||Several homes flooded. Farmlands, apple orchards, local roads damaged. Hailstorm also witnessed during night in Pauchi, Nagjubbad, Shivan areas.||Himachal Abhi Abhi ; News18|
|13||~06:00 pm, 18 July||Gotang area in Shalkhar & Chango panchayat||Local streams/ Spiti river||Pooh/ Kinnaur||Flash flood in 8 local streams invaded about 35 homes. Local roads damaged and closed. Several vehicles buried under debris. About 12 cowsheds, 7 irrigation canal damaged, 4 water mills, 4 public toilets, 1 motor and 1 foot bridge damaged apart from apple orchards and vegetable crops. Villagers moved for safer places. As per initial estimates properties worth Rs 1.5 crore were damaged. Area close to China border. The Pooh, Sangla areas witnessed flash flood destruction again on July 27.||Hindustan Hindi; News18; Amar Ujala; Janta TV; Punjab Kesari; Business Standard; Dainik Jagran|
|14||Evening hours 19 July||Hill areas of Leo Village Panchayat||Leo nullah/ Spiti river||Pooh/ Kinnaur||Some homes flooded with debris. Hailstorm also occurred in the area damaging apple orchards and vegetable crops.||News 18; Dainik Bhaskar;|
|15||~03:00 pm 19 July||Manali||Bhajogi, Ghiyal nullah/ Beas||Manali/ Kullu||Maal road flooded with debris, boulders & damaged. Bus stand, homes, shops, government buildings flooded with debris, muck.||Dainik Bhaskar; ETV Bharat|
|16||19 July||Gue village||Gue Nullah/ Spiti||Spiti/ Lahual Spiti||Gue village road damaged. Landslips occurred at several locations. The area again faced excessive rainfall and flash flood damages on July 28.||Dainik Jagran|
|17||~03:00 am 25 July||Near Atal Tunnel||Palchan Seri Nallah/ Beas river||Manali/ Kullu||2 foot bridges, 100 meter road, 2 vehicles washed away. A restaurant, an eatery damaged. Manali-Leh NH closed for 5 hours.||Times of India; News18; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala; E TV Bharat ; India Today|
|18||~02:30 pm 27 July||2 cloud bursts in Tojing and Dared areas||Tojing and Dared nullahs/ Chenab||Udaipur/ Lahaul- Spiti||1 causeway, 2 bikes, 70 meter road washed away by flash flood along with BRO bridge building material. Local roads were damaged and several vehicles stranded.||Amar Ujala|
|19||~05:00 am 28 July||Chanaighad village Baga Sarahan panchayat||Local stream/ Sutlej||Nirmand (Anni)/ Kullu||6 people injured about 12 houses were damaged. Villagers left homes for safer places.||Out Look ; Dainik Jagran|
|20||~03:00 am ~06:00 am 08 Aug.||3 cloud bursts Badhoga, Sarong, Gulel, Kandhwara Chakoli villages||Baira, Siul and Bhaledh/ Ravi||Saluni; Churah/ Chamba||1 person was killed, 2 injured in Gulel. Overall flash flood washed away 1 bailey bridge, 10 small bridges, part of road, 23 homes, 12 watermills, 10 shops, 4 school buildings, 5 cowsheds, 20 cattle, 10 vehicles away apart from destruction to farmlands and crops.||Amar Ujala; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala Dainik Jagran. Dainik Bhaskar; News18; ETV Bharat; Himachal Abhi Abhi|
|21||~03:00 am 11 Aug||2 Cloud bursts Khaded village in Devthi panchayat Swah & Chanaigad||Local streams/ Beas river||Aani; Nirmand/ Kullu||An elderly woman along with teenage granddaughter buried inside home in Khaded. 20 homes damages in Chanaigad. 5 vehicles washed away in Devthi. 10 shops damaged in Anni.||Amar Ujala; The Tribune ; Dainik Bhaskar; Dainik Jagran; Awaajevirsa; Divya Himachal|
|22||Early morning hours 11 Aug.||2 Cloud burst Holi Tyari; Harsal||Aala nullah, Pranghala nullah, Sathali nullah/ Ravi||Bharmour/ Chamba||Flash flood, debris in Aala nullah blocked Ravi flows for about one hour. Some water mills washed away. Local road damaged by flash flood. Manimahesh pilgrim stopped.||News18; Dainik Jagran; Hindustan Hindi|
|23||Evening hours 15 Aug.||Shalkar village||Local streams/ Spiti river||Pooh/ Kinnaur||Apple orchards, farmlands damaged and 3 vehicles damaged by flash flood. The area is close to China border.||Hindustan Times|
|24||~02:00 am; ~03:00 am 19 Aug.||3 cloud burst incident Julada, Banet, Paddar, Jatrund||Local streams, Paddar nullah/ Ravi||Chowari; Banikhet; Bhatiyat/ Chamba||3 family members killed due to house collapse incident amid excessive rainfall in Julada. About 30 homes flooded, 2 vehicles washed away in Paddar. More than 6 houses flooded with debris and 3 vehicles washed away in Trimath. Several homes, cowsheds damaged; 8 cattle, 3 vehicles washed away in Jatrund. Local roads damaged.||Amar Ujala ; Dainik Jagran; Punjab Kaseri|
|25||Late night- Early morning hours of 19-20 Aug.||Multiple cloud bursts Baghi Thunag Kashan Dharampur||Baghi nullah Tandi nullah/ Son khad/ Beas||Gohar; Drang; Dharampur/ Mandi||7 member of a family of Katola village washed away by flash flood in Baghi nullah along with cowsheds, cattle, farmlands and a foot bridge. Bridge on Baghi nullah damaged. Katola villagers left homes for safer places. Landslides occurred at several places. 3 NH and dozens of SH closed. Half of Thunag market area washed away. Over 60 shops flooded with debris. More than 20 vehicles damaged. Locals fled from the area to save their lives. 3 cowsheds damaged. 1 cattle killed. Power supply, mobile network disrupted hampering rescue work. Home collapsed in Kashan village killing 8 family members. Overall 59 homes, 60 cowsheds suffered damages. Portion of Chakki railway bridge in Kangra washed away.||Amar Ujala; Dainik Jagran ; Punjab Kesari; Hindustan Hindi; Hindustan Times; The Tribune; ABP News; ABP Live ; Dainik Jagran|
|26||Afternoon hours 02 Sept.||Khaniyara||Ghullu nullah/ Sutlej||Dharam-shala/ Kangara||2 homes, 2 shops, 3 eateries fully damaged. 15 homes, 3 shops partially damaged apart from Nag temple and several vehicles. Khaniyara-Dharamshala bridge swept away 45 cattle washed away.||News 18; Dainik Bhaskar; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala ; Aaj Tak; Punjab Kesari|
|27||Evening Hours 21 Sept.||Gronda village in Aati Panchayat||Holi Fer Nullah||Holi/ Chamba||About 55 sheep washed away in flash flood.||Chamba Hulchul; Divya Himachal|
|28||Afternoon hours 25 Sept.||Dharedi village area under Dhimla panchayat||Bakani nullah/ Ravi||Dharwala/ (Mahela Block) Chamba||3 people died in flash flood. 2 vehicles, 6 water mills, 8 small bridges washed away.||PTC News; Dainik Jagran|
|29||Evening hours 25 Sept.||Mangarh village area||Local stream, Jalal river/ Giri||Pachhad/ Sirmaur||1 person died of electrocution due to flash flood in Badu Sahib area. Cash crops worth lakhs of rupees damaged. Some vehicles washed away and part of ancient temple and a small bridge was also damaged.||Dainik Bhaskar; Dainik Jagran; Amar Ujala; Solanup2date;|
Summary We could compile 39 incidents of cloud bursts in HP between June and September 2022. Of this 2 incidents took place in June before the onset of south west monsoon and the rest 37 occurred during the monsoon season. Of total, 33 cloud burst incidents have taken place in just two months of July (18) and August (15) while 4 such incidents took place in September.
District wise, maximum cloud burst incidents have taken place in Chamba (13) followed by Kullu (10). Thus, 23 of such incidents occurred in just two districts. While 4 each of cloud burst disasters occurred in Lahual & Spiti and Mandi, Kinnaur districts and 1 each in the districts of Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmaur and Kangara.
Interestingly, all the 4 cloud burst incidents in Mandi occurred during intervening night of August 19 and 20, 2022. [Mandi district received 114.7 mm, Kangra district received 108 mm and Bilaspur district received 57.1 mm rainfall in the 24 hours ending at 0830 am on Aug 20, 2022. Kangra district received 61.2 mm on Aug 19.]
Death Toll Going by the available media reports at least 30 human lives including those of 8 kids and 4 women were lost in these 37 cloud burst incidents apart from injuries to scores of people. Most of the death toll, about 23, occurred in just 3 of such incidents including about 15 in Mandi on August 20, 5 in Kullu on July 06 and 3 in Chamba on August 19.
Similarly, at least 215 cattle including sheep, goats, mules and cows were killed in these disasters. In several cases the affected villagers and government employees had narrow escape or had to run for their safety; otherwise the death toll could have been much higher.
Destruction of public, private infrastructure About 80 homes, over 30 shops were completely damaged and over 120 homes and 20 shops suffered partial damages due to cloud bursts induced flash floods and landslides which also led to significant damages to around 89 cowsheds. At least 27 small, foot bridges, causeways, 7 motor bridges, 22 water mills and 69 vehicles were washed away by the flash floods following cloud burst incidents in HP.
The Malana hydro project in Kullu faced major destruction due to cloud burst on July 6. Apart from this, number of public facilities including water supply schemes, irrigational channels, school buildings, temples, Panchayat buildings, public toilets, power supply lines and local roads were severely damaged in the cloud bursts related disasters. Additionally, the farmlands, cash crops and apple orchards have also suffered huge damages and destruction.
This report is on the basis of media reports we could track. It’s possible that not all the listed incidents meet scientific definition of cloud bursts. There is also possibilities of several of such disasters remaining uncovered here or going unreported in the media. The account also suggest rise in the incidents of multiple cloud bursts in HP.
Some Relevant Reports
Get rid of structures along rivers, rivulets Himanshu Thakkar said nothing should be allowed to be constructed along the natural path of a river or a rivulet. “Illegal construction along rivers and nullahs in Himachal has increased in recent decades. This is the primary reason why many people die when a cloudburst hits. If you stand right in the way of a river what else do you expect?” said Thakkar, who is also coordinator of SANDRP, an organisation working on issues related to rivers and dams. “If a cloudburst strikes, say in the forests of the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal, no one would even notice it. Only when there is damage, we talk about it,” said Thakkar. Even in the latest incident of a cloudburst and the resulting flash flood in the Choj village of Parvati valley in Kullu, many camping sites had been washed away, prompting the local administration to ban camping on river banks.
– “We require actionable cloudburst forecasts,” said Thakkar, adding there was a need to identify more locations for installing Doppler weather radars. We also need to use remote sensing to report high intensity rainfall events promptly after it happens. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/himachal-pradesh-end-to-cloudburt-losses-get-rid-of-structures-along-rivers-rivulets/articleshow/92927984.cms (17 July 2022)
In 2021, Himachal Pradesh recorded around 30 cloudburst events and Uttarakhand 50, according to SANDRP that work on related issues. SANDRP collated data from news articles on these disasters. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/dte-explains-the-science-of-cloudbursts-83766 (18 July 2022)
EWS sought in flood-prone Kullu, Mandi areas After the cloudburst wreaked havoc at Choj village in Kullu district, villagers on July 8 demanded the installation of early warning systems (EWS) in flood-prone areas of Kullu and Mandi districts. Ramesh Kumar, vice-pradhan of Choj gram panchayat, said that timely information (through mobile phone) received by the villagers about the cloudburst near Choj village averted a major tragedy. As soon as people received information about the cloudburst, they ran out of their houses to a safe location. Otherwise, more casualties could have taken place. “In Lahaul and Spiti, the district administration has set up 8 Automated Weather Stations (AWS) to provide pre-disaster alerts to residents. There is urgent need to set up such weather stations in flood-prone areas of Kullu district to provide pre-disaster alerts,” he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/early-warning-system-sought-in-flood-prone-kullu-mandi-areas-410418 (8 July 2022)
Kinnaur: EWS installed at 6 highly sensitive landslide sites District administration has installed early warning system and land monitoring system at 6 highly sensitive landslide sites including Nigulsari, Batseri, Pagal Nala, Urni Dhank, Kuppa and Purbani Jhula to prevent human casualties during accidents at these places. https://jantaserishta.com/local/himachal-pradesh/himachal-pradesh-news-flood-in-tongtongche-and-seringche-drains-in-sangla-the-administration-made-this-appeal-to-the-people-1350072 (04 July 2022)
7 cloudbursts, 31 flash floods in a month Over 30 flash flood incidents and 7 cloudbursts have battered Himachal within a month of the onset of monsoon 2022. There have been 133 deaths due to natural calamities in the state so far. 2 major disasters hit the region in 10 days. Cloudburst struck near the Sumdo check post near the China border on July 19, 2022. On July 28, Giu village adjacent to the border was also flooded. A cloudburst in Lahaul’s Karpat on July 28 destroyed a bridge. Traffic movement on the roads connecting Manali-Leh, Pangi-Killar and Kaza were also severely affected. Another cloudburst incident was reported on July 28 in Kullu district’s Chanaighad area. 6 deaths were reported and 12 buildings were damaged. The state has faced a loss of Rs 450 crore during the monsoon season. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/monsoon-2022-himachal-sees-7-cloudbursts-31-flash-floods-in-a-month-84076 (01 Aug. 2022)
2 landslide EWS installed in Kinnaur Following frequent landslides, early warning and land monitoring systems, which will send signals about the landslide activity in advance, have been installed at Batseri and Nigulseri in Kinnaur district. The system, installed by the IIT Mandi, will be helpful in preventing loss of life, besides avoiding disaster, as early information of the slide movement will be available, said DC Abid Hussain Sadiq. He said the system would be installed in 6 most sensitive and vulnerable sites, including Pagal Nullah and Malling Nullah. An MoU was signed with the IIT to install 6 systems at Rs 23 lakh and a team of the Geological Survey of India is surveying the vulnerable points. On an average, 40-50 landslides are witnessed in Kinnaur every year. Last year, 9 tourists were killed in a shooting stone incident in Batseri while 28 persons were killed in a landslide near Nigulsari. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/two-landslide-early-warning-systems-installed-in-kinnaur-385330 (11 April 2022)
Huge loss of life and properties 169 people lost their lives while 298 people were injured in flash floods, landslides and road accident incidents in first 42 days of monsoon. Maximum 28 people died in Shimla and 22 in Kullu district. After the cloudburst in Manikarna Valley, 5 people in Kullu and 1 from Chamba were missing for almost a month. Across the state, 88 houses were fully destroyed, while 272 houses suffered partial damage. 252 cowsheds and 14 watermills were also destroyed apart from death of 126 cattle in this period. Public and private property worth Rs 619 crore was destroyed across the state. The PWD suffered losses of Rs. 323 crores alone while properties worth 277 crores of Jal Shakti Department’s was destroyed. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/himachal/shimla/news/cloud-burst-in-chamba-damage-to-5-to-6-houses-nh-05-or-505-closed-havoc-in-himachal-land-slide-in-many-parts-of-state-130162149.html (08 Aug. 2022)
An official government release on Aug. 21 2022 said landslides and flooding in the state of over the last three days killed at least 36 people. Hundreds were taking shelter in relief camps after being displaced from their flooded homes. https://apnews.com/article/floods-india-monsoons-climate-and-environment-3a9782d62401c3485bd13c88b30cef49 (21 Aug. 2022)
22 dead in separate incidents of flash flood, landslide 22 persons were killed while 6 others were missing in incidents of landslide and flash floods triggered by heavy rain in Mandi, Chamba, Kangra, Shimla, Kullu and Una districts of Himachal Pradesh since Aug. 19 2022 night, officials said. In Mandi, a girl was killed and 13 others were feared dead in a landslide and flash flood triggered by heavy rains. Several families also left their houses located between Baghi to Old Katola areas after a cloud burst and took shelter at safe places. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/6-killed-13-feared-dead-in-separate-incidents-of-flash-flood-landslide-in-hp/articleshow/93675410.cms (20 Aug 2022)
743 roads were blocked for traffic due to landslides. Principal Secretary (Revenue) Onkar Chand Sharma said 2,000 transformers and 172 water supply schemes were disrupted. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/landslips-flash-floods-kill-22-in-hp-423688 (21 Aug 2022)
249 deaths, Rs 1,337 cr loss 249 persons died in rain-related incidents in HP during the current monsoon season. The state has suffered loss Rs 1,337 crore. 8 persons have been killed in flash floods, 19 in landslides, 1 in cloudburst, 27 were drowned, 34 in tree and rock falling incidents while 41 persons died in other monsoon-related incidents. Besides, 119 persons died in 40 accidents and 444 were injured while 10 remained missing.
About 71 incidents of landslides, 64 flash floods, 12 cloudbursts, 12 of drowning, 34 tree/rock fall and 27 others were reported in HP since June 29, says Sudesh Kumar Mokhta, Special Secretary (Disaster Management). The loss to private property is estimated at over Rs 13 cr.
128 houses were completely damaged while 587 houses suffered partial damage. Besides, 665 cowsheds, shops and other private establishments were also been damaged. The PWD suffered the maximum loss of Rs 700.6 crore and the Jal Shakti Department Rs 602.7 crore.
The state received 552.8 mm of rainfall during the current monsoon season. The 64-year-old record of heaviest rainfall was broken on August 20 when Dharamsala recorded 333 mm of rain in 24 hours; the previous record was 316 mm of rainfall on August 6, 1958. The state had suffered losses of Rs 1,578 crore in 2018, Rs 1,202 crore in 2019, Rs 872 in 2020 and Rs 1,151 in 2021. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/249-deaths-in-himachal-rs-1-337-crore-loss-424288 (23 Aug. 2022)
From June 29 to September 1, 293 people have died in HP. 565 were injured, 8 people have gone missing. More than 700 cattle have died in rain-related incidents. More than 1845 residential houses, shops, cow sheds have become razed. According to an estimate, due to rain, there has been a loss of over 1900 cr. https://hindi.news18.com/news/himachal-pradesh/dharamsala-disaster-in-himachal-cloud-burst-in-kangra-flash-flood-khaniyara-lost-contact-nodss-4536181.html (2 Sept. 2022)
29 incidents of cloudburst 3 years This was said in a written reply by Revenue and Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur on Aug. 12, 2022 in reply to a stared question sought by MLA Ramesh Dhawala (Jawalamukhi) during the question hour. 19 lives were lost and property worth crores of rupees was reportedly destroyed in the last three years till 20 July this year as a result of flash floods due to cloudbursts.
It was also informed that the state government will seek cooperation from the France Development Institute for EWS, research and study for the increasing cloudburst in Himachal. Assistance will also be sought from other institutes including Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, GB Pant of Himalayan Studies, Defense Geo Informatics Research Establishment (DGRE), Wadia Institute of Himalayan Studies and Department of Science and Technology. The Disaster Management Department with the help of DGRE is in the process of setting up of Automatic Weather System at 61 places. https://www.thestatesman.com/india/29-incidents-cloudburst-hit-1503099731.html; https://www.amarujala.com/shimla/cloudburst-29-incidents-in-three-years-in-himachal-pradesh-himachal-assembly-session (12 Aug. 2022)
Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)