Beware of fatal fall in Himachal rivers


Shimla/Manali : Next time you feel adventurous while staring at a waterfall and plan to jump into the rippling river, think again. A slew of accidents has led the Himachal Pradesh government to issue warnings, asking tourists not to go near rivers and streams.

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“We have asked the deputy commissioners to install hoardings, warning the tourists not to go near the flowing water,” Tourism Director Arun Sharma told IANS.

He said hoardings have been installed along the Beas river running along the National Highway 21 between Kullu and Manali towns, where fatal fall incidents involving tourists are greater.

“Most of the tourists, mainly from the plains, probably do underestimate the magnitude of the danger. They enter the river to enjoy the feel of the rippling river. Chances of slipping due to algae formation on the rocks are more. Once they slip, a sudden strong current can wash them away in seconds,” Sharma added.

Police data shows that every year five to six deaths involving tourists are reported in and around Manali. However, minor incidents of injuries due to slipping go unreported.

A newly-wed tourist couple from Delhi drowned in the Beas in Manali in September 2008.

Sumit Ranjan, 32, and Swati Sinha, 27, were clicking photographs near the latter when Swati slipped into the river. Sumit jumped into the river to save his wife but both were swept away by the strong current, police said.

Likewise, Apurv Chaudhary, student, drowned in the Beas in April last year.

“Even the people who are organising water events like rafting in Kullu have been issued guidelines not to go for river rafting before sunrise and after sunset. Regular inspections are being carried out to ensure that they follow proper guidelines and use safety gears,” Kullu Deputy Commissioner B.M. Nanta said.

He said current in the Beas is quite strong these days as glaciers start thawing with a sudden rise in temperatures. “This season, the water level in almost all tributaries of the Beas is abnormally high due to heavy snowfall in higher reaches in the last winter.”

Another official said that an alert has been issued in Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts due to sudden increase in water level in the rivers and streams with the melting of snow.

Sharma said the state tourism department this year held meetings with the tour operators of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata and asked them to act more responsibly by informing the tourists about the actual weather conditions.

“Soon we are going to release a travel advisory on the tourism department website and that will be updated regularly,” he added.

Himachal Pradesh, whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, attracted 13,298,748 tourists, including 454,851 foreigners, last year.

Kullu-Manali has emerged as a favourite tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.