Due to the ongoing heat wave in north Indian plains, two of Uttarakhand’s popular hill stations, Nainital and Mussoorie, are choking with a heavy influx of tourists. The situation is more serious in Nainital, where the administration has decided to stop tourists outside the hill station every time parking in the city is full, allowing them in only when the traffic and parking can be managed inside.Despite these initiatives, on Sunday evening there was a major traffic snarl on approach roads to Nainital with up to 3 to 4 km long line of vehicles that were being allowed slowly into the small hill station.A tourist, Digamber Chaturvedi, who had come from South Delhi, said they had to wait for a long time on the outskirts of Nainital as the traffic didn’t allow them to proceed directly. “We didn’t expect such a traffic jam here. We had come here to escape the heat of Delhi. We were not expecting such Delhi-like traffic issues here,” he said.Mahesh Chandra, inspector in-charge, traffic police, Nainital, said on Sunday around 2,500 tourist vehicles had come to Nainital and thousands of people who had come over last few days were checking out.“As total parking available here is around just around 1,500 to 2,000, we had to stop vehicles on Nainital’s outer periphery on the three approach roads – Kaladungi, Bhowali and Haldwani roads. We allowed them slowly so that the situation doesn’t get out of hand inside Nainital,” he said. Dinesh Lal Sah, president, Nainital Hotels’ and Restaurants’ Association (NHRA) said the tourist season was delayed this time due to the general elections. “It has suddenly picked up this weekend. And due to the heat wave, more and more tourists are coming here daily. Given the rush of tourists, the authorities are stopping tourist vehicles outside so that the movement of thousands of vehicles can be managed here,” he said.The limited space in the small Himalayan town, coupled with a significant rise in daily tourist influx, has created problems such as traffic snarls and mismanagement, shortage of parking space and overcrowding in the city markets. Last year, police had put up ‘Nainital Houseful’ flexi-banners on the approach roads to the hill station to discourage tourist arrivals. Authorities are unable to stop tourists who haven’t ensured a parking space for their vehicle prior to their arrival in Nainital, as per Uttarakhand high court directions. In April last year, the high court had given directions to the state government to ensure that “those coming to Nainital with their own vehicles should first make advance arrangements for parking their vehicles.” Similar situation in MussoorieHT Photo To ease the congestion, Mussoorie police had to resort to route diversion from Gajji Bend area towards Company Garden area. The situation in Mussoorie, home to much-loved author Ruskin Bond, is also no different. However the influx choked the roads causing traffic congestion in the hill town. To ease the congestion, Mussoorie police had to resort to route diversion from Gajji Bend area towards Company Garden area. The situation was worse at the existing bottlenecks near Gandhi Chowk where traffic movement is slow. “We had to divert light and medium vehicles on the Gajji bend route towards Company garden to ease the traffic movement under the new traffic plan,” said Bhavna Kainthola, police station incharge Mussoorie.“Presently, around 80 constables and 11 sub inspectors have been deployed additionally in Mussoorie for tourist season and even they too struggle during the mad rush of tourist on weekends,” she added.The encroachment on the sides of the road, and the buses bound to Yamunotri and Gangotri on Chardham yatra also added to the traffic woes on the Yatra route from Mussoorie to Kempty Falls, said police officials. The encroachment on the highway passing through the hill town also made it difficult for vehicles to move freely.Shivraj Singh Lodhiyal assistant engineer national highway (NH) division, PWD, said “The work to remove encroachment from the road under NH is on in full swing and we have sent the national plan for the widening of the road from Tyuni to Barkot and from Barkot to Mussoorie in two phases and once approved the work will begin earnestly thus easing the traffic congestion on the route considerably.”“With the temperature crossing 40 degree Celsius in the northern plains of India and school vacation of the children around the corner, the situation could aggravate further next weekend,” said Shi Bhatia, a resident of Mussoorie.The Mussoorie Municipal Board (MMB) is planning to construct four additional parking facilities to ease the situation. “The additional four parking facilities, would be one each at Library Bazaar, near Civil hospital, Butcher Khana in Landour and Picture Palace bus stand for which the agreement process is ongoing,” said Anuj Gupta, chairperson, MMB. Sanjay Agarwal, secretary of Mussoorie Hotel Association, said “So far, the administration has been able to control the situation and the Association has given its support in making the stay of tourists comfortable during this summer season.