Heavy rain has had a devastating impact on industrial activity and businesses in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. The State has been hit with incessant cloudburst and landslides that have disrupted lives and livelihoods yet again.

Transportation has been hit on many key highways as residents cope with the impact on their homes due to heavy rains. A section of UNESCO heritage, the Kalka-Shimla Railway track was left hanging after the soil beneath it was washed away in heavy rain.

This comes after the State faced similar disruptions in July with the onset of monsoons.

Gagan Kapoor, Chairman, CII Himachal State Council, told businessline, “The situation is very bad and the State is witnessing so much devastation. Lives have been lost. Factories have been shut for the past four days. The movement of raw materials has almost stopped.Consumers are not moving out for shopping besides essentials such as FMCG. Business activity has almost come down to zero and the state is staring at heavy losses.“

Death toll

On Tuesday morning, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu told reporters that the death toll due to the impact of incessant rains and landslides has increased to 55 people. “This death toll may increase further. We are undertaking rescue and restoration work at war footing. Electricity and water services are being restored.”

He added that nearly 1,200 roads were disrupted. The State has managed to reopen Shimla-Chandigarh four lane highway. “So, we have managed to reopen the key backbone roads, but it will take more time to restore transportation on State Highways,” he added.

Tourism hit

Tourism is one of the key revenue generators for Himachal. Hotels and restaurants typically do brisk business during long holiday weekends. However, the industry is now staring at a washed-out August.

Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said, “July was devastating for Himachal Pradesh. Except for the beginning of July, the whole month had almost zero business. Roads and bridges were badly damaged, and the priority was evacuating the tourists safely. In August too it has rained heavily, and this month has also been a washout.”

He added that the industry is now hoping that the tourist flow to the State normalises in September and October.

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) Vice- Chairperson Jyoti Mayal said the hotel occupancy in popular destinations of the State is barely 1-5 per cent during weekends when it normally used to be between 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

“The recent heavy rains and landslides in the picturesque regions of Himachal and Uttarakhand have unfortunately put a damper on our long weekend escapades. Understanding the safety concerns, it’s crucial for authorities to prioritize the well-being of residents and travelers alike,” a spokesperson at EROS Group said.