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31 killed in Himachal in rains, cloudbursts

By Ians

Shimla, Aug 19: At least 31 people have died in Himachal Pradesh following heavy rain and cloudbursts triggered by the southwest monsoon, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said Tuesday.

"Heavy rain in various parts of the state claimed 31 human lives and there has been damage to several houses," he said in a statement. As many as 633 heads of cattle also perished since the onset of monsoon over the state.

The chief minister said the loss to roads and bridges due to rains was assessed at around Rs.412 crore. He said Rs.22.36 crore has been allocated to the public works department for restoration of roads.

The chief minister's statement comes days after the opposition BJP attacked him for remaining out of the state when it was witnessing torrential rains, and claimed that no relief measure had been taken.

Singh said the government has been taking remedial measures and providing relief to the people.

The chief minister said that out of 336 roads closed till Aug 16 as many as 187 roads have been re-opened and 132 roads are likely to be opened by Aug 19.

He said 1,953 rural water-supply schemes were either fully or partially damaged and till date 1,869 schemes have been restored.

The BJP has said Hamirpur, Mandi and Shimla districts were worst affected in the recent rains. "Many people have become homeless. Houses in many villages have collapsed and the locals have had to move to safer places," said former health minister Rajeev Bindal.

The opposition asked the chief minister to focus on relief and rehabilitation work rather than lobbying to retain his post.


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