Taxi owners, hoteliers ‘fleece’ stranded tourists
Life still out of gear in Manali where the power supply has been snapped since Friday night because of heavy snowfall. However, the Kullu district administration today opened NH-21 between Kullu-Manali, which was blocked due to heavy snowfall in the region.
The tourists, who were stranded in Manali, took a sigh of relief. They were desperate to move back to their home because heavy snowfall had hampered life and the traffic movement got disrupted. A number of tourists complained that they were overcharged by taxi operators as well as by hoteliers to take the advantage of the situation, while the district administration should be ready to handle such situation, they added.
Sanjiv Kumar, native of Punjab, and Ketan of Delhi, alleged: “Taxi operators were charging exorbitant rates from tourists to drop them to Kullu and even hoteliers were asking higher rates from many tourists, who returned to hotels when they could not get the transportation facility.”
The stranded tourists said there enjoyment turned sour soon when electric supply snapped in Manali and there was no heater for warming and hot water of bathing. Today, as weather became clear, the district administration had pressed the snow-cutting machines between Kullu-Manali from Patlikuhal and the road was thrown open till evening for the traffic.
A heavy rush of tourist vehicles had triggered traffic jam for hours and the police were struggling to handle the traffic.
Talking to The Tribune here, Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, Yunus Khan stated that the right bank of NH-21 had been opened for traffic between Kullu-Manali, while efforts were on to open the left bank via Naggar. The DC said the authority was taking a close vigil over offenders fleecing tourists and they were advised to complaint directly with the district administration.
The water supply had been restored to the town and efforts were on to restore electricity.
There were around 100 roads, leading to villages, were blocked or damaged because of snowfall and around Rs 2.15 crore losses were assessed by the Public Works Department, Kullu.
Superintendent Engineer of the PWD Lalit Bhushan said 14 JCBs, 4 dozers and more than 1,000 work force had been deployed in snow-clearance work in the region.