Atal Tunnel the way to income generation through homestays: HP govt
The Himachal Pradesh government is now exploring possibilities of generating incomes through homestays, as suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while inaugurating the Atal Tunnel which links Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti valley that is currently facing heavy tourist influx.
Traditional architecture of the state will be promoted and all plans will be made with due consideration to the state’s fragile ecology even as the tourist rush is a cause for worry, it has been learnt.
“We are roping in experts and the tourism department is drawing a comprehensive plan to promote tourism in the region keeping in view the fragile ecology,” says state chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the tourism portfolio.
“Modiji has envisioned promotion of homestays instead of big luxury hotels beyond the north portal of the tunnel at Sissu,” he adds.
Tourist rush a threat to ecology
Meanwhile, with an effective waste management system missing, dumping of garbage could get to be a real problem for the pristine Lahaul, Spiti, Chandra and Bagha valleys. The tourist rush will not help.
Garbage has been dumped at various spots on the stretch between Manali and Keylong as no dustbins have been installed along the highway. Waste gets mixed with rainwater and trickles down the hill slopes into the rivers. “A large number of tourists have entered the valley after the tunnel opened,” says BK Kapoor, retired chief engineer from the Electricity Board, who is from Tholang village .
“About 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles pass through the Atal tunnel daily,” says superintendent of police, Kullu, Gaurav Singh.
Urgent infrastructure upgrade required
Tourism experts fear that the tourist rush and lack of infrastructure will hurt .
There are no toilet facilities along highways, forcing travellers to defecate in the open.
The roads are narrow, drinking water capacity is limited, hotel rooms are limited, wayside amenities are poor, training or skill development units are not available, trek routes are unidentified, temples and monasteries need to enhance capacity and health facilities are in bad shape.
This is the time when the state government should ask the Centre for a special package, suggest experts, for infrastructure development in Lahaul valley.