Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, January 7
Normal life was thrown out of gear in Himachal as 493 roads were closed following widespread rains and snow and there was no respite from biting cold wave as minimum temperatures stayed three to seven degree below normal.
Water pipes froze and burst at many places in middle and higher hills, including Shimla, thick ground frost was seen in middle and lower hills and fog disrupted traffic in more than a dozen towns along riverbeds and reservoirs.
Shimla, Chamba, Kullu and Mandi districts, which experienced rain and snow, were worst-hit and 300 of the 493 roads were closed in Shimla zone alone. Dozens of HRTC buses were stranded, while 100 buses were not sent to snowbound areas. The Hindustan-Tibet Highway was closed beyond Dhalli and Rampur-bound buses were routed via Basantpur and Kingal.
As many as 151 roads were closed in Rampur, 96 in Rohru, 48 in Shimla, 119 in Dalhousie, 44 in Mandi and 22 in Kullu. As many as 297 JCBs, 37 tippers and 16 dozers have been deployed for clearing roads. Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association president Sanjay Sood said the hotel occupancy in Shimla was over 80 per cent and the bookings were on as the number of walk-in tourist was on the rise.
Tourism Industry Stakeholders’ Association president MK Seth said: “Small and frequent falls are beneficial for the tourism industry as the roads are opened, tourists are not stranded, power and water supply is not affected and tourists in large number throng Shimla and other hill destinations to enjoy snow.”
Kothi, Dalhousie and Kufri received 45 cm, 24 cm and 20 cm of snow, respectively, followed by Manali and Khadrala 18 cm, Kalpa 17 cm, Keylong 15 cm, Shimla 14 cm, Pooh 10 cm, Gondla 8 cm, Theog 7 cm and Sarahan and Udaipur7 cm. However, rains washed the snow in Shimla.
The local MeT office has predicted thunderstorm accompanied by hail and lightning in lower hills and heavy rains and snowfall in middle and higher hills on January 8 and 9 and rains and snow at isolated places in middle and lower hills on January 10.The MeT office predicted another wet spell from January 12. The high altitude tribal areas and other high mountain ranges and passes covered under thick blanket of snow reeled under arctic conditions with mercury staying 12 to 20 degree below freezing point and all natural sources of water lakes, springs, rivulets and tributaries of major rivers were frozen.
Shimla DC Amit Kashyap said Dhalli-Kufri, Kufri-Chail, Shimla-Theog roads had been blocked due to snowfall and snow-clearing operations were in full swing with adequate JCB machinery. PWD employees were working in bone-chilling conditions to resume traffic on main roads and link roads. He said Chopal-Shimla and Khadapathar road were also blocked and HRTC buses were were not plying in snowbound upper Shimla areas and Narkanda has recorded 9-inch snow and Dodra Kwar subdivision is also cut off.
Air traffic hit in Kangra
Kangra: Low visibility affected air traffic at the Kangra airport on Tuesday. Due to low visibility, the Chandigarh-Dharamsala Air India flight could not land and returned to Chandigarh. Another Air India flight from Delhi to Dharamsala was cancelled due to bad weather.
MAN KILLED AS TREE FALLS ON MOVING CAR
A man was killed when a tree fell on a moving Maruti car near Forest Headquarters in Tolland on Cart Road, Shimla. Amit Sharma, 30, was seriously injured as the tree fell on the front seat and the car veered off the road and hit the crash barrier. He succumbed to injuries on way to hospital.
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