70 people still stranded in snow in Lahaul Spiti for last 5 days


After passing of five days as many as 70 stranding people in the freezing cold way of Lahaul Spiti and at 13050 ft high Rohtang Pass Kokisar and Udaipur could not evacuate till this afternoon as fresh snowfall disrupted rescue operation began on war footing yesterday, district administration claimed. District spokesman of Kullu Mr. Sher Singh told UNI that about 70 people who are stranded at 13050 high Rohtang pass in their vehicles mostly drivers, ITBP Jawan, and rest others at Koksar and Udaipur in Lahaul valley could not evacuate till this afternoon.

He said that Rohtang Pass is extremely cold as the normal temperature was looming nearly minus 15 to 20 degree in the day itself all stranded snow pass is expected to return back to Koksar and many others went back to Keylong with no improvement in the inclement weather condition. He said that SDM Manali was personally looking after the rescue operation to clear about three to four feet snowfall from Manali-Keylong highway between Merhi to Koksar also snowing in the day at 13050 ft high Rohtang pass.

Border Road Organisations have to stop the snow clearing operation after experiencing snowfall this afternoon as it is difficult to brave the bone-chilling rescue operation. District administration had announced on Sunday that about 46 drivers are stranding on the Rohtang Pass and Koksar Manali-Keylong highway and about 24 people of a marriage party at Udaipur.

With improving weather condition yesterday heavy mechanics have been pressed to clear the snow between 45 km long stretch of Koksar of Lahual and Merhi of Kullu. Mr. Sher Singh told UNI that phone and mobile services snagged between Kullu and Lahaul Valley and they could not establish any link about the stranded people however he added that district administration did permit anyone beyond the Koksar and Merhi police post.

He said that Some drivers, ITPB Jawan who were stranded at Rohtang Pass likely to returned back as it is not possible to brave the minus 15 to minus 20-degrees temperature on the high reaches. It is very unlikely to evacuate the stranded people in extreme cold wave from the Lahaul valley by road and rescue operation would take a couple of days to clear the snow from the Rohtang pass.

With dry weather in the night and clouds in the day intensified the cold wave condition in the Lahaul Spiti district as night temperature was keeping several degrees low in minus below freezing temperature. A minimum temperature of Keylong was at minus 6.5 degrees last night and about four degrees down from the normal. Lahaul Spiti and few part of Kullu are under the thicket of clouds for last few days and due to fresh feeble western disturbances brought snow blizzard in the high reaches.

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The entire Lahaul and Spiti valleys were reeling under the cold wave as thick blankets of snow was keeping normal lives out of gear. Despite pressing Heavy machinery to clear snowfall BRO could not open the snowbound roads to restored the Manali Leh road for last five days. With disruption in the mobile and telephone communication today people were completely cut off from the mainstream of lives and forced to bear the hardship about one month before the winter season. The Early arrival of winter season and snowfall in the district snapped the normal lives to rest of world as people were yet busy in supply cash crop of Potato and Green Pea from the Lahaul valley.

As many as six dozen local roads were also disrupted by the snowfall and snowstorms in the district. Similarly, Kunzum Pass also disrupted vehicular supply to Kaza in Spiti valley where the minimum temperature fell down to minus 10 to 15 degrees. All the snow bodies like Surajtal and Chandertal were frozen to ice bodies with the early arrival of winter. All the down streams coming out of snow passes and Glaciers were frozen in the cold temperature reducing water discharged substantially.

District administration Lahaul Spiti said that there was no scarcity of food and other fuel commodities in the snowbound districts as sufficient winter quota of ration has been available in the district. Manali-Keylong road is only territorial communication between Lahaul and Kullu valley and people remained cut of from land transport for more than five months in the winter after snowfall on the Rohtang Pass.

BRO has already announced to officially close down the Manali-Leh road after Nov 15 with the high chance of snowfall on the high reaches. With the commissioning of under constriction all weather Rohtang Pass tunnel people could ferry between Keylong and Manali as eight-kilometer tunnel is being built between Solangnalah near Manali and Grampho in Lahaul Valley.

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ML Verma is a Senior journalist, with more than a decade of experience of active reporting for electronic media, news agencies and fast paced online media.

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