Tourists start leaving on foot as Manali still cut off by snow


Shimla : Hundreds of tourists, who have been stranded in Himachal Pradesh’s resort town Manali due to massive landslides triggered by snow, Tuesday started to move out on foot towards Kullu as road connectivity remained disrupted.

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Manali continued to be cut off from the rest of the country due to landslips Monday evening.

“As the district administration has failed to clear the road of landslides, like other tourists we also decided to cover the 16 km badly damaged road stretch this (Tuesday) morning from Manali to Kullu on foot,” Sandeep Sehdev, a Shimla-based photojournalist of Hindustan Times, told IANS.

He was in Manali to cover the Winter Games and Carnival that began Sunday.

“The highway has been damaged at various points. At one point, a huge mass of ice that looks like a glacier has come down near Kalath (5 km from Manali towards Kullu). Though the road clearing operation is on, it will take one more day to make the entire stretch motorable again,” he said.

Shyam Benipal, a tourist from West Bengal, said: “We have been held up in Manali for the past 24 hours. There was no electricity in the town for the past two days. No government official was guiding us… the hoteliers were fleecing us. So we (16 people) have decided to reach Kullu (40 km from Manali) on foot.”

Public Works Department Minister Gulab Singh Thakur told IANS: “Work is on to clear the landslides and snowfall. The highway will be re-opened to traffic in the next few hours.”

“I have also to attend some scheduled programmes relating to winter carnival in Manali today. Right now, I am monitoring the road-clearing work from Kullu. But continuing rain and snow is hampering the road re-opening work,” he said.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate Rajeshwar Goel said all tourists and locals in Manali, about 300 km from here, were safe and would be allowed to move forward only after the road was cleared.

“We are advising the tourists not to leave Manali on foot as there were still chances of heavy snowfall. Moreover, there was huge accumulation of snow on the highway. We are also monitoring hotels and restaurants to check fleecing of the stranded people,” he said.

The weather bureau here said Manali and its nearby areas received more than three feet of snow.

Manali is located on National Highway 22.