The parts of Himachal have received another spell of snow while the entire Lahaul valley has received heavy snowfall and the administration has ordered to close the schools for two days.
With some areas receiving heavy snow and blankets of snow forming several layers, the Himachal disaster management authority has warned about avalanches in districts of Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti. Both the district administrations have asked people to stay alert.
While higher regions are receiving fresh snow, the lower areas are lashed by rain. Lahaul-Spiti district headquarter Keylong has received 60cm snow since Sunday evening. Koksar has received over 75cm snow. Solang, which was covered with nearly 75cm snow, has received 15cm more snow on Monday. Kalpa in Kinnaur also received 15cm more snow. Manali town received some traces of snow in the evening but snowfall had restarted in the late evening. The residents of Shimla city received some relief from slippery roads and pathways due to the rain but upper parts of the district received some snow.
The conditions are worst in Lahaul valley where all roads are blocked and electricity and phone networks have been crippled by snow. The residents are hearing the roaring sound of the movement of snow avalanches but nobody can see them in almost no visibility.
Keylong sub-divisional magistrate Amar Negi said the valley has experienced heavy snowfall since Sunday and schools have been closed for the next two days. “All roads are blocked and power supply is affected partially. The accumulation of blanket of snow on old hard snow has increased the chances of avalanches. We have alerted residents to take extra precaution,” he said.
Many roads in the state were still closed due to recent snowfall and the fresh snowfall has again blocked more roads in the state. The electricity supply was crippled in Shimla, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti.
According to Shimla meteorological centre director Manmohan Singh, the western disturbance that hit Western Himalayas on Sunday brought snowfall and rain to the state and another western disturbance is likely to hit the state on Wednesday. “The minimum temperature in the state has increased by 1 to 2 degrees C in the last 24 hours. At minus 6 degrees C, Keylong was coldest in the state,” he said.
Landslides block roads, make driving risky
Thousands of people including tourists have stranded after a landslide at Banala near Aut in Mandi district of Himachal that has blocked Chandigarh-Manali national highway since 2pm on Monday.
The authorities have failed in removing the debris amid rainfall as more debris and boulders are coming down on the highway. As all attempts to resume traffic movement failed till night, Mandi administration and police have decided to keep highway closed for the night and reopen it in the morning time. A large number of tourist vehicles including nearly 40 tourist buses that left Manali for Delhi have also stuck on the both sides of the slide. The vehicles are now being stopped at Mandi and Kullu. Unfortunately, the bypass road via Kandi-Katola is also blocked with snow.
Mandi SP Gurdev Chand Sharma said the highway had blocked at Banala near Aut following a landslide. “Cops are present at the spot to ensure public safety. Some people were helped in crossing the area on foot so that they could board buses and other vehicles from other side of the slide. We are keeping an eye on the situation,” he said.
The incessant rains have triggered landslides in Mandi and Kullu districts along the national highway at multiple places where huge mountain cutting was done for widening of the highway. While driving has become risky at many places, the road is completely blocked at Banala near Aut. The whole mountain face here is sliding down for over a year now. The Naggar-Kullu road had also blocked with landslide at Chharudu in the late evening.
Huge boulders are rolling down on Kullu-Manali highway, making driving very risky. The boulders are lying along the highway but authorities are not clearing them as rain was still continuing. Neither the authorities have cautioned travellers to take precaution while driving.
The Aut-Sainj road that was blocked by flood in Pagal nullah on Sunday is again blocked by flood in nullah on Monday. As the road is being maintained by a hydel project management, the residents blamed that the area is being ignored by management which does not deploy machines to clear debris until their own vehicles stuck here.
Mahesh Sharma, a resident of Sainj village, said, hundreds of villages get disconnect after floods in the Pagal nullah. “Nobody is caring for our plight. This nullah brings tonnes of debris in any season and blocks road. It also poses threat to our lives. Government should find a permanent solution to this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kullu police on Monday night received information that a vehicle fell into Beas river on Manali-Kullu bypass road. The police said they did not find any vehicle, nor did they receive any casualty report but the search was on in the late night with help of search lights.
Despite heavy snowfall in the upper Himachal, thousands of tourists are heading to Kullu-Manali to enjoy fresh snowfall. The hoteliers were not happy with the recent official advisories not to visit Manali and Shimla. Hoteliers blamed that government and officials should concentrate on keeping highways open and improving the tourism infrastructure rather than asking them not to visit the state. They are happy that tourists are still visiting the hill stations to enjoy the snowfall.
The situation is expected to normalize on Tuesday morning. The hoteliers in Kullu-Manali had requested tourists to avoid travelling on Manali-Chandigarh route on Monday and continue their trip on Tuesday.