The toll in Himachal Pradesh rose to 71 on Wednesday after torrential rain triggered landslides and floods, PTI reported.

Rainfall that occurred between August 13 and 15 has washed away several homes and caused widespread devastation in the state.

On Monday, two landslides had occurred in Summer Hill and Fagli areas of Shimla. On Tuesday, another landslide had occurred in Shimla’s Krishna Nagar locality. The toll climbed on Wednesday as more bodies were recovered from the debris.

Deputy Commissioner Nipun Jindal on Wednesday told PTI that the authorities have evacuated 1,731 people from flood-hit areas of Kangra district in the last 24 hours. Indora and Fatehpur sub-divisions of the district were inundated due to the elevated water level in the Pong Dam.

Himachal Pradesh has received 742 millimetres of rainfall in 54 days of monsoon this year against the season’s average of 730 millimetres that it records between June 1 and September 30, an unidentified weather department official told PTI.

All schools and colleges across the state will remain closed till August 19 and at least 698 roads have been blocked due to landslides.

CM blames faulty architecture, rampant construction

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that Himachal Pradesh has suffered an estimated loss of about Rs 10,000 crore due to the torrential downpours. The state, he added, will take a year to rebuild the infrastructure that has been damaged.

Sukhu blamed faulty construction of buildings, indiscriminate construction work and migrant architects for the devastation in the state, reported The Indian Express.

“In recently made buildings, the drainage system is very poor,” he told the newspaper. “People believe they are draining the water without knowing that water is going nowhere but into the hills, making them fragile. Shimla is more than one and a half century old, and its drainage system was excellent. Now there are buildings in the nallas [runlets].”

He said the houses that have collapsed had not met the standards of structural engineering. “The migrant architects [masons], whom I call ‘Bihari architects’, come here and construct floor on floor,” the chief minister claimed. “We do not have local masons.”

He said that the National Highways Authority of India should construct tunnels instead of widening the roads, adding its engineers need to cut the mountains more scientifically.

“There is a way to cut the hills,” Sukhu said. “Hills are always cut in slopes at an angle of 45 degree, 60 degree, etc but not at 90 degree, as was done at many locations between Kalka and Shimla.”

Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri has urged the Centre to declare national calamity in Himachal Pradesh and release Rs 2,000 crore for restoration work.

At least 214 people have died in the rain-related incidents since the onset of monsoon on June 24 while 38 are still missing, the state emergency operation centre said.