Fresh snow in Manali, Shimla adds to woes
The famous tourist resort of Manali today experienced fresh snowfall, while Shimla had tourists enjoying snowflakes in the evening as cold wave continued to sweep most parts of the state with minimum temperatures staying below normal.
Along with cold wave conditions, erratic power and water supply coupled with traffic jams, added to the woes of residents and tourists. Frozen roads disrupted vehicular traffic and upper areas of Shimla, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti remained cut off from the rest of the state.
The piercing cold tightened its grip in Manali and upper areas following another spell of fresh snow in the day.
Dark clouds hovered which resulted in fresh snowfall in the higher reaches, including Rohtang Pass. The famous ski slopes of the Solang Valley also received snow.
Local bus service remained suspended on the Manali-Naggar road, causing inconvenience to locals and tourists. The power supply in Manali had also been disrupted.
With a dip in temperature, sale of woollens, Kullu shawls, hand-woven socks, mufflers, gloves, caps and snow shoes has shot up.
While the normal life remained crippled in several parts of the state and people shivered under extreme cold conditions, a large number of tourists who thronged Shimla and other hill resorts, felt the heat of demonetisation.
Though most of the tourists are making major payments, like hotel bills, through credit and debit cards, there is no cash available with them to make petty payments as most of the ATMs had run out of cash following influx of tourists after snowfall.
Tourists who are making small purchases are facing great hardship as cash is not available. Local businessmen are also feeling the pinch and losing customers.
Even after five days, normalcy could not be restored and several areas remained without electricity for the fifth day today, while power supply was erratic in some areas. There was a little improvement in water supply as the pumping was hampered due to power shortage.
Most of the areas in uppers Shimla and Kinnaur remained cut off while all roads in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district and Pangi are closed bringing normal life to a halt. Efforts are afoot to open the approach roads to helipads. As many as 253 roads in the state are still closed and labourers had been deployed in strength to restore the roads. Out of the total 40 roads closed in Shimla town, 35 had been opened. Further, 450 damaged irrigation and water supply schemes are yet to be made functional.
Meanwhile, Shimla experienced mild intermittent snowfall while the hill resorts of Kufri and Narkanda witnessed another spell of snow. Higher hills and tribal areas continued to reel under arctic conditions with Keylong and Kalpa in tribal Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts recording a minimum temperature of minus 9.7°C and minus 7°C while the key tourist resorts of Manali and Shimla recorded a low of minus 2°C and minus 0.4°C. Solan recorded a minimum temperature of 0.5°C, Bhuntar 1°C, Sundernagar 2.1°C, Una 3.4°C, Nahan 4.7°C and Dharamsala 7°C.
Stuck in snow, Lahaul residents seek air services
Mandi: Residents of Lahaul-Spiti have requested the state government to launch air services to the district as the transportation system has been collapsed since January 3 because of heavy snowfall in Rohtang Pass. The residents stuck there till April because the Manali-Leh highway is closed for vehicular traffic due to heavy snowfall.
Locals said there was no alternative other than the air service to move in and out of the district. The district has been facing the shortage of health staff for a long time and people are forced to move out of the district to avail better health services.
Ashok Kumar, native of Keylong, said, “We face difficulty when the road is closed at Rohtang and now we urge government to provide air service to the district.” District Congress Committee president Norbu Bodh also gave a memorandum to the district administration to provide flight service immediately.
Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul Spiti, Vivek Bhatia, told The Tribune that the authority would write to the government to provide chopper service to facilitate the residents. However, this year, the district administration had launched e-Udan software service for the residents of the district to provide online booking system. Four helipads at Diet, Keylong, Udaipur and Bhuntar had been connected with the e-Udan software and people could get detailed information about airfare, availability of seats, cancellation of flight service and contact numbers of officials deputed at helipads for queries easily via internet.—Dipender Manta
Man freezes to death at Jalori Pass
Kullu: One person froze to death while crossing the 10,500-ft high Jalori Pass on foot on the Aut-Luhri national highway of the district on Monday. The police said Mohammed Syed from Uttar Pradesh was working as a mason at Shoja village of the district and he along with his two friends were crossing the Jalori Pass which was covered with 5-ft snow. It was learnt that they were coming back from Anni and the victim was left behind, while two of his friends were able to make it safely to Shoja. The police said the victim’s body was recovered near the Bada nullah on Tuesday and had been sent for the postmortem examination. It said further investigation in the case was on. — OC