On August 16, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu blamed migrant masons and labourers from Bihar for the destruction caused due to landslides following excessive rainfall. Himachal Pradesh is facing the worst natural calamity of the last 50 years. Due to excessive rain and landslides, several houses have been swept away. Around 70 people have lost their lives to date.
In an interview with the Indian Express, Chief Minister said that the architects and labourers from outside come to HP and construct floors on the floor without applying the scientific methods that lead to such disasters. He said, “The migrant architects (masons), whom I call ‘Bihari architects’, come here and construct floor on the floor. We do not have local masons.”
The popular tourist destination Shimla is one of the most affected regions during this monsoon calamity. Several buildings have collapsed, and new videos emerge on social media recorded by the locals where screams can be heard in the background as the buildings collapse like a pack of cards. The CM said the old Shimla city has a robust drainage system and tall government buildings are safe, which is evidence that the constructions in recent years did not follow structural engineering standards.
He said, “People construct houses without applying scientific methods. In recently made buildings, the drainage system is very poor. People believe they are draining the water without knowing that water is going nowhere but into the hills, making them fragile. Shimla is over one and a half centuries old, and its drainage system is excellent. Now there are buildings in the Nallas (runlets). The houses which are collapsing these days have not gone through the standards of structural engineering.”
CM added, “Our secretariat is a nine-storey building, and the building of Advanced Study in Himachal University, Summer Hill, is an eight-storey building. There was no technology when these buildings were constructed, but the structuring was there. We have never heard of these buildings being in danger, ever.”
Chief Minister also blamed improper cutting of rocks to widen highways. He said, “There is a way to cut the hills. Hills are always cut in slopes at an angle of 45 degrees, 60 degrees, etc., but not at 90 degrees, as was done at many locations between Kalka and Shimla.”
A yellow warning was issued by the local MeT station indicating heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, and lightning at isolated places from August 14 to 17 and predicted a wet spell in the state till August 19.