Hundreds of commuters, including tourists, were caught in a massive traffic jam on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway after a landslide near Shoghi, 13 km from Shimla, on Saturday morning. Efforts are on to clear the stretch that may be opened to traffic only after 6pm.
Shimla deputy superintendent of police (traffic) Amit Thakur said work to restore traffic on the highway was on in full swing and vehicles were being diverted via bypasses. “The public works department’s (PWD) machinery has been deployed to clear the road bock but it requires blasting to break down huge boulders,” he said.
It would take at least four hours to open the stretch, he said. PWD sources said two unsuccessful attempts had been made to blast the boulders. “It is not easy to reach the huge boulders and without breaking them down, the road cannot be cleared,” Thakur said.
Daily supplies hit
With the road blocked, the supply of daily needs, including milk and bread, to Shimla was affected. Newspapers could not reach the state capital in time. Vehicles carrying these necessities were stranded after crossing Solan and reached Shimla later in the day via a bypass.
By 2pm, commuters were stuck in a traffic jam running up to 5 km on both sides of the landslide-hit area. This despite the administration and police routing traffic to Shimla from the Shoghi Mehli bypass.
Several tourists returning from Shimla and trucks laden with apples were seen stranded.
Landslide early in morning
Local residents said that the landslide occurred early on Saturday morning when there was less traffic on the stretch else it could have caused casualties.
Ganesh, a truck driver stranded for three hours in the jam, said that he had to reach the fruit market in Hyderabad. “I am carrying apples from Narkanda to Hyderabad but officials here say the traffic will not be restored before this evening,” he said.
“We have been held up here for the past four hours. Had the traffic not been disrupted, we would have been in Chandigarh by now,” said Kritika, a tourist returning to Jaipur in Rajasthan.