Due to high possibilities of heavy snowfall, the Manali-Leh highway has been officially declared closed from November 1 till the onset of summers next year. Lahaul-Spiti administration has speed up stocking process for essential commodities for emergency use in winters when district would go cut off from rest of the country.
Earlier, Border Road Organization (BRO), who looks after maintenance work of Manali-Leh highway, had decided to keep the highway open till November 30 but organization has changed its decision. To avoid any untoward incident due to blockade of highway, BRO has declared it unsafe for vehicular movement. Though, vehicular movement would continue normally until snow blocks the highway, but BRO officials said they will not be responsible for safe passage of vehicles now onwards.
BRO commander Yogesh Nair said snowfall may block the highway any time and left many people including tourists stranded, so they have issued advisories. “Copies of decision to close highway from November 1 have been forwarded to Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti administration. Maintenance work of highway will continue during winters. We shall clear the highway in case of mild snowfall. But if it snows heavily, we won’t be in condition to reopen it,” he said.
With declaration of BRO, the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti has officially cut off from the country. Residents have stored enough ration, fodder and woollens to face the six-month long harsh winter. About 20,000 quintal firewood has been stored in district wood depots. More than 90 percent of potatoes, the cash crop of Lahaul-Spiti, have arrived at Kullu for further transportation to several parts of the country. Remaining crop is expected to reach here within a week.
Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Rajeev Shankar said 95% supply of ration, kerosene, fuel and other essential commodities have been stored for winters while remaining stock would arrive here soon. He said, “As long as it is safe, emergency vehicles and public buses of Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation would be plying the highway. All preparations have been made to tackle winters.”