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Snowfall crisis: Six days on, Manali-Kullu powerless, paralysed as tourism gets biggest blow

Thousands of tourists who found themselves stuck with problems have cancelled their stays and returned homes.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
Updated: December 19, 2014 8:57:50 pm

In the season’s first snowfall, internationally famed Kullu-Manali – a popular tourists destination, has suffered heavily with continued disruption of power supply, telecom services, roads blocked by snow and fallen trees/electricity poles and hoteliers facing huge cancellations ahead of the Christmas and New Year eve rush.

Sixth day on, twin tourists towns of Kullu and Manali remained without power supply. Thousands of tourists who found themselves stuck with problems, rather than comforts and exuberance of snow, cancelled their stays and returned homes. Power disruption has hit the towns badly.

State’s Principal Secretary (Power) Sushil Negi later this evening told the Indian Express that the 132 KV electricity supply (feeder) line has been restored. This was the main life line of Kullu-Manali which was snapped due to falling electricity poles and trees. The HPSEB had deployed more than 200 SSB personnel,150 homes guards and its own technical teams, who worked around the clock to restore the supply at the war footing. The HPSEB has suffered a loss of Rs 50 crores due to fallen poles and snapping of the power lines.

“But now it’s restoration will bring the life to back to normalcy,” he added.

What compounded the situation, and even caused panic, was an advisory issued by Inspector General of Police (Central Range) asking the tourists not to come to Kullu-Manali till the services including roads and electricity are restored.

Today Sub-Divisional Magistrate Manali Viney Dhiman faced an anger of the hoteliers who reported nearly 80 percent cancellations of the tourists. Dhiman later informed the media persons that the tourists were welcome to Manali. The services including electricity supply will be restored in few hours time and telecom services are also normal except in certain areas.

The locals  have also complained of complete collapse of the services after first snow fall. Several roads remained blocked with no vehicular movement. Mobile phones could not be recharged. Few people paid Rs 100 for recharging their mobile batteries on diesel generator sets.

The restoration of the road has so far been done only on Kullu-Manali road but certain parts of the road still has problems in smooth mobility of the traffic. Lots of vehicles remain stranded.

Sunil Bamba, a Manali hotelier said, “The situation in Manali is very bad .I have faced huge cancellations during past three days and those staying, booked for three days, have returned on second day. It’s a tough time for the hotel industry and problem is basically result of an advisory asking the tourists not to visit Manali.”

Additional Chief Secretary ( Revenue,forest and disaster management ) Tarun Shridhar said the administration is working very had to bring normalcy but disruption of main power supply line has caused a big problem.

“The HPSEB teams, home guards and SSB personnel have been pressed into service. Director (Technical) of HPSEB is also camping there. Hopefully, things electricity supply will get restored in couple of hours. Roads have been opened and water supply has improved. The heavy snowfall has caught everyone by surprise.”

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