The tragic bus accident near Manikaran in which 11 passengers were killed and 33 are still missing has come as eye-opener for the Himachal government. The state disaster management authority has advised all deputy commissioners in the state to make registration of pilgrims visiting the state mandatory apart from drawing up disaster management plans for temples and other shrines.
“There are several pilgrimage centres in Himachal Pradesh and people from adjoining states come in buses, trucks and other vehicles to visit these places. There are incidents of overloaded buses carrying pilgrims to their destinations.
Overcrowding in buses came to the fore after the recent accident near Manikaran in Kullu district on July 23,” the advisory issued by special revenue secretary and disaster management committee chief DD Sharma said. It also suggested police personnel could be stationed at road barriers and checkposts to check overloaded vehicles.
The advisory underlined the need to take precautionary measures to ensure safety of bus passengers. “It has been observed many visitors venture near rivers,” Sharma said.
The state disaster management authority has also advised district administration officials to ensure registration and insurance documents of buses carrying pilgrims and tourists, besides licences of drivers, are regularly checked.
“We have asked all district administration officials to warn tourists not to venture near rivers and high-risk areas. Visitors must be provided with the basic ‘do’s and don’ts’ as well as weather details. Pilgrims visiting shrines in the state should be registered at border checkposts,” Sharma said.
The disaster management authority also suggested tourist inflow into the state should be regulated to avoid stampede incidents. “Those visiting high altitude areas should be apprised about the weather conditions. The public works department should assess hazards on roads and bridges,” Sharma added.