After being stuck at snow-hit Manali for a day, about 2,500 tourists on Monday were moved to safer places. The season's first snowfall has somehow hit the tourism industry in the region.
About 6,000 tourists were stranded in Manali on Monday, while the district administration on the same say started evacuating the tourists. Vehicular traffic was restored for light motor vehicles, while work to clear the snow from the roads near Patlikuhal, around 25 km from Manali, was on.
Manali sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Vinay Dhiman said, “Work is on to restore traffic for heavy vehicle on the road connecting Kullu and Manali. “Nearly 2,500 tourists have been evacuated on Tuesday, while rest will be evacuated by Wednesday evening,” he said.
However, in Kullu and Manali regions, power supply remained disrupted for the third day. “Due to lack of power supply, communication has become a big problem in the region. However, no tourist is stranded now, but we all are battling with darkness,” said a government official.
Surjeet Singh, a native of Moga in Punjab, who was stranded in Manali, said snowfall caused a lot of problems along with a little joy. “We are heading back to Moga, but faced difficulties due to snow and less preparedness of the admisntration,” he said.
Another tourist, Pradeep Kumar from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, said, “It was a nightmare. Snowfall can be so awful, we never imagined,” he added.
Meanwhile, life has been completely paralysed in Manali and Kullu and the tourism industry has also been affected. Several hoteliers here have lost their bookings due to the heavy snowfall. “Tourists have canceled their bookings for next 10 to 15 days. There was 100% occupancy till Christmas, but after the recent snowfall, tourists have canceled the bookings,” said Ashok Thakur, a Manali hotelier.
A tour and travel agent from Shimla, Satish Sood said the tourists had canceled their booking for Manali. “Anticipating snow, tourists preferred Manali for Christmas and New Year, but after seeing the problems faced by the tourists, they have cancelled their bookings,” said Sood.
There are around 1,500 hotels and huts in Kullu and Manali region, which usually experience 100% occupancy in the winter season, but this time they fear revenue loss due to cancelation of bookings.
However, the Kullu administration is toiling hard to restore traffic. Kullu and Manali deputy superintendent of police Puran Chand said traffic jam from Patlikuhl to Manali was hampering the restoration work. Meanwhile, Lalit Bushan, superintending engineer, public works department (PWD), Kullu, said light vehicular traffic had been restored, while the roads would be through for all kind of vehicle by Wednesday.
The minimum temperature in Manali was recorded at - 4.2 degree Celsius, while maximum temperature was recorded at 3.6 degree Celsius and Kullu settled at 0.2 degree Celsius. On Sunday, Manali witnessed nearly 65 cm of snow.
Meanwhile, five French nationals, who were stranded at Kaza, were evacuated on Tuesday via the Kinnaur route. They were stopped by Lahaul and Spiti administration from going to higher reaches after the snowfall started on Saturday.