M A I N   N E W S

Flood fury of Sutlej, Beas lessens
500 tourists stranded between Leh-Manali road
Tribune News Service

Shimla/Mandi, July 7
While the fury of the Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries abated to a great extent today, life in the affected areas remained paralysed due to destruction of road links and other infrastructure. About 500 tourists, including 70 foreigners, were stranded between Leh and Manali as unseasonal snow on the high-mountain passes at Baralacha, Rohtang, La Chungla and Tanglagla blocked the 463 km road.

The people got some reprieve as the incessant heavy rains stopped this morning after more than after 48 hours. However, the alert continued as more rain was predicted over the next two days. In fact, a fresh spell of rain started in many areas by the evening.

Meanwhile, bodies of two persons, who were washed away in floods, were recovered today. The body of Nar Bahadur, a Nepali labourer, was found in a nullah near Seema in Shimla district and the other from Manikaran in Kulu.

The water level in the Beas receded and the Chandigarh-Manali road was opened up to Kulu. However, the Kulu-Manali section could not be opened to traffic as some stretches were still under water near Raison. The stretch of road, which came under the floodwater at Ram Shila, close to the Kulu town, had breached. The vehicular traffic between Kulu and Manali has been diverted through the left bank. Unseasonal snow and landslips disrupted the vehicular traffic at several places on the Manali-Leh road.

According to reports reaching here, the Rohtang Pass had 30 cm of snow and other three passes on the road were under 50 cm of snow. The Border Road Organisation had started clearing snow.

The efforts of the administration to revive the old Hindustan-Tibet road as an alternative route received a setback as the heavy rains caused numerous landslides. Mr Amandeep Garg, Deputy Commissioner, said work on the road had been started on a war footing to ensure that the peas crop from the cut-off areas was sent to the market. However, now it would not be possible to open the road up to July 25.

Though the PWD restored the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway-21 till the Alu Ground, near Manali, today, the traffic was diverted through the Gramshila bridge on the left bank route to Manali that has emerged as a better and safer alternative highway than the right bank main highway.

Trucks and tourist vehicles, which were stranded at the breached points bewteen Hanogi and Aut and Akkhar Bazar and the Gramshila bridge and between Patlikuhal and Raison beyond Kulu town, crossed the streches as PWD workers restored the breached streches on a war footing today.

The Executive Engineer of the PWD, Mr Siv Lal Sharma, said the highway had been restored till Alu Ground. “Over 100-metre road strech had been washed away by the Beas river there. It will be restored by tomorrow”, he said.

A Press Club team of Chandigarh cancelled its trip to Leh via Manali yesterday as they got struck at Hanogi temple as the Beas flooded the highway.

The tourist vehicles and Army convoys and four trucks of plums remained struck at the breached stretch of the highway near Duwada.

The surging Beas river damaged the newly constructed Gramshila Bridge connecting the left bank with the right bank near Kulu town, said PWD engineers, but the traffic was plying on the bifurcation from Kulu town to Manali on the left bank.

Mr Sharma said the bridge was safe for traffic, which had started today evening.

Meanwhile, all government and private schools in Banjar subdivision in Kulu district have been closed till July 15 in view of the surging Sainj and Tirthan rivers following a long spell of heavy rains that have washed away link roads and 4-ft bridges used by the schoolchildren and locals in the areas.

The SDO, Civil, Mr Rohit Jamval, said schools have been closed in the Banjar subdivision as a precautionary measures till July 15.

Most link roads and foot bridges across the Sainj and Tirthan rivers had been breached at several places. The road was restored till Sainj today evening, but the Gushaini and Bathar remained cut off from the headquarters, he added.

Officials added that the foot bridge connecting the senior secondary school, Gushaini, with the village was washed away along the school building in the surging water of the Tirthan yesterday. Talara, Nagni, Bathar and Gushaini and other many villages remain cut off from the headquarters due to landslides and the breached link roads, they said.

Besides the surging Tirthen and Sainj rivers had washed away 18 houses in Gushaini and Bathar, 15 shops in Sainj and the Rs 70 lakh trout fish farm at Nagni, and 20 heads of cattle downstream at several places for the last 48 hours, rendering over 100 persons homeless.

Though the water levels in the Tirthen and Sainj rivers receded by three to five feet today after the rains stopped last night, the swirling rivers caused loss worth Rs 4 lakh in Mandi district and Rs 5 lakh in Kulu district so far.

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