The Dalai Lama on Thursday expressed sadness over the destruction caused by severe flooding in northern India—especially in Himachal Pradesh, which has been hardest hit. His Holiness has offered prayers for the loss of life and pledged a financial donation to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.
As the effects of climate change around the world become more extreme, torrential monsoon rains across northern India have caused flash floods and landslides, leading to at least 150 reported fatalities in the past two weeks, with extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure in the region.
In a personal letter to the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the Dalai Lama, who is has been visiting Ladakh since 11 July, expressed sorrow over the scale of human suffering:
“Having lived so happily in this state for more than six decades, I feel a special affinity for the people here,” His Holiness wrote. “I pray for those who have lost their lives and offer my heartfelt condolences to those families who have lost loved ones, as well as to others affected by this natural calamity.
“I understand that the state government and other agencies are doing everything they can to provide relief and mitigate the effects of this tragedy. As a mark of my solidarity with the people of Himachal Pradesh, The Dalai Lama Trust is making a donation towards rescue and relief efforts.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Northern India, which just a few weeks earlier was in the grips of an extreme summer heatwave that killed at least 170 people, has received record levels of rainfall since the monsoon season began in June. The India Meteorological Department reported that Himachal Pradesh recorded a 100 per cent increase in average rainfall.
In mountainous Himachal Pradesh, which is home to the Dalai Lama and a sizable population of the Tibetan diaspora, at least 91 people are reported to have died, with more than 100 injured. Media reports cited a government statement which said that vehicles, bridges, and homes had been wept away by flood waters. Some 170 houses in the state have collapsed and another 600 were damaged by torrential rains and landslides, and more than 1,000 roads have been closed. Meanwhile, at least 50,000 tourists were evacuated over a 48-hour period, according to the state’s Information Department.
Five hundred kilometers to the south, in New Delhi, a city of 20 million, drinking water supplies have been affected after water treatment plants were inundated following extended downpours. The Yamuna, a major tributary of the river Ganges, has overflowed after reaching its highest level in 45 years.
Higher-than-usual rainfall has been recorded in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Although heavy monsoon rains are common in the region between June and October— providing about 80 per cent of South Asia’s annual rainfall, which is essential for agriculture—scientists say that the seasonal downpours are becoming more extreme and erratic as a result of climate change and global warming.
Expressing Sympathy for the People of Himachal Pradesh (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Record monsoon rains have killed more than 100 people in northern India over two weeks (AP)
34 more deaths take monsoon fury toll in north India to 150 (Times of India)
Flood warning in Delhi as rains batter north India (BBC News)
India’s capital faces drinking water shortage after pumps flooded (Al Jazeera)
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