In recent months, the news has been filled with images and stories of devastation from Himachal Pradesh. The state has seen innumerable landslides through the monsoon, which have killed more than one hundred people, and destroyed homes, shops, hotels and other structures.
The landslides have also caused severe disruptions to traffic across the roads that connect the mountain state’s towns and cities.
But as Vaishnavi Rathore learnt reporting from the state, these roads themselves are the cause of significant destruction – specifically, projects that have been underway for around a decade to convert several of them into four-lane roads. As experts note, poor planning and execution of these projects has weakened fragile mountain slopes and been directly responsible for several landslides in the state.
“Seeing the extent of the damage, and how widespread it was, was heartbreaking,” Rathore said. “People who had lost their homes spoke of how they rushed out of their house early in the morning to save themselves. Officials spoke of how much damage the state had undergone in terms of irrigation projects being disrupted, and roads caving in, all of which had incurred great public cost.”