Come May month, uni-directional traffic system would be imposed on Manali-Rohtang highway in an effort to combat one of the worst traffic jams on the hill roads of the world.
The rise in temperature is forcing people to rush to the hill stations. Lakhs of tourists will head to Manali, particularly snow points of Rohtang, to get some respite. To prevent thousands of vehicles from choking the narrow road to Rohtang, Kullu administration has decided to make the Rohtang highway one way and impose timing-system. The highway leading to Manali town would also be made one-way.
Kullu DC Yunus while holding a meeting with officials of all the departments, associations and stakeholders prior to the start of peak tourist season said vehicles going to Rohtang, Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi and Ladakh would be allowed to go till noon after which entry from Manali side would be restricted. “Once all vehicles reach Rohtang, the vehicles coming from opposite side would be allowed to come towards Manali. This will probably end all traffic bottlenecks and traffic will move smoothly.”
He said vehicles entering Manali town will have to take another route for the exit. “We shall keep a close watch on vehicles jumping the queues. Overtaking would not be tolerated if any vehicle is found breaking the queue in case of jam or slow traffic,” he added.
Talking about compliance of National Green Tribunal (NGT) order on Rohtang pass, Yunus said permit would be issued only to 1,300 vehicles to go to Rohtang pass for tourism purpose. Besides this quota, vehicles going to Lahaul-Spiti or Ladakh would not be allowed to come back from Rohtang. Vehicles violating the rules would be fined with Rs 5,000 and can be impounded. We have improved the online permit booking website and mobile app,” he added.
Kullu SP Shalini Agnihotri said number of police personnel required to regulate traffic and to check law and order would be less due to the election and she requested hoteliers, taxi operators and locals to cooperate with police. However, Manali SDM Ashwani Kumar said volunteers can come forward to help police in traffic management and sensitizing tourists at Rohtang pass.
DC warned officials to complete all pending works within 15 days to avoid strict action. He asked PWD and NHAI officials to repair the roads and bridges before April 15 when summer season starts. As garbage is piling up everywhere in town, he ordered the municipal council to clean up garbage in two weeks. Electricity board officials were asked to take power transmission lines to Gulaba barrier where traffic is regulated as per NGT direction. He also asked to make electricity available at Rohtang pass.
Stakeholders gave suggestions to improve local infrastructure and also complained about the problems that tourists are facing. It was discussed that tourists would be encouraged to hand over the waste to their driver who will keep it in the trash bag and will deposit it to the responsible authority. A sewage treatment plant would be built at Marhi near Rohtang pass. Till then, mobile toilets would be stationed at major tourist places.