Hundreds of commuters stranded as Chandigarh-Manali highway remains blocked

More than 300 different roads, including the key highway, remain blocked due to flash floods and landslides amid heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh ov
Vehicles stuck in a traffic jam as the Chandigarh-Manali national highway got blocked following landslides triggered by rainfall, in Mandi on Monday. (Jai Kumar)
Vehicles stuck in a traffic jam as the Chandigarh-Manali national highway got blocked following landslides triggered by rainfall, in Mandi on Monday.

traffic jam, Chandigarh-Manali national highwayHundreds of commuters, including tourists, were stranded in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district as the Chandigarh-Manali national highway was blocked following flash floods and landslides, officials said on Monday. The 70-km Mandi-Pandoh-Kullu stretch has been badly affected, they said. A total of 301 roads are closed in the state following heavy rains, while 140 power transformers are disrupted.

Flash floods were witnessed in Khotinallah near Aut, about 40 km from Mandi town, on the Pandoh-Kullu stretch due to a heavy downpour and the commuters have been stranded since Sunday evening.

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The alternative Mandi-Kullu route via Katola, blocked due to landslides, was opened after almost 20 hours and small vehicles are now being diverted through this stretch, said the officials of the Mandi administration.

Meanwhile, the Mandi-Pandoh stretch, which was blocked near 6 Miles after a landslide, has been opened for one way traffic but the vehicles are moving at a slow pace, the officials said, adding explosives were used to blast heavy boulders blocking roads on this stretch.

Vehicles have been halted at Dadaur, Balh, Danotu, Sundernagar, Dehar, Aut, 7 Miles and Bindrabani, as rains have started again and reports of landslides are coming from other places in the district.

The stretch from Mandi to Jogindernagar has been blocked for traffic at Magal near Mandi, the officials said.

The commuters have been advised not to move towards Mandi until the road is opened, they added.

"It is a nightmarish experience as we have been stuck here since yesterday evening. There are limited hotels and other accommodations available nearby," said Mohit, a tourist from Chandigarh.

There are over two km of jam on both the sides even though the police and administration have stopped traffic at several points on the stretch, he added.

"We have been stuck since last evening as the road is closed. A large number of vehicles are stranded on both sides of the roads at Aut and 6 Miles," said Prashant, a stranded commuter who was returning to Mandi town from Chandigarh.

Public Works Department Minister Vikramaditya Singh said as many as 301 roads have been blocked due to heavy rains.

Out of these roads, 180 would be opened by Monday evening, 15 by Tuesday and the remaining by June 30 depending on the weather conditions, Singh told reporters in Shimla.

As many as 390 JCBs, dozers and tippers have been deployed to clear the roads and the department would release a number on which the people can report road related issues by today evening, he added.

In Shimla, silt in water at the booster station has affected the water supply to the town, the officials said.

In view of the incessant rains lashing the state, the traffic and tourist police on Monday issued an advisory asking people to avoid unnecessary travel and not to venture into rivers and drain sites.

"Refrain from engaging in water sports activities, including rafting, as water levels can rise unexpectedly following release of water from dams. Besides, get reliable information before travelling to upper Shimla areas, Kinnaur, Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti, and Chamba districts," the advisory said.

"Adhere to the guidelines and instructions issued by the district magistrates and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA). Call 112/1077 in case of emergency," it added.

There are about 30 road stretches prone to frequent landslides in the state. So far, during the ongoing monsoon season which started on June 24, the PWD has suffered a loss to the tune of about 27 crore.

The local weather office has issued an orange alert for heavy to very heavy rain, thunderstorm and lightning at isolated places on Monday and Tuesday and yellow alert of heavy rain, thunderstorm and lightning on June 28 and 29.

On Sunday, flash floods triggered by a cloudburst in Solan and Hamirpur districts and heavy rains in Shimla, Mandi and Kullu killed two people, damaged crops, homes and vehicles, and washed away livestock.

According to the State Emergency Operation Centre, one person each drowned in Hamirpur and Shimla districts. The rain also damaged 11 houses and several vehicles as well as four cowsheds.

Moderate to heavy rains have also lashed several parts of Kangra, Mandi and Sirmaur districts.

Dharamshala in Kangra was the wettest with 107 mm of rain followed by Kataula and Bhattiyat 75 mm each, Gohar 67 mm, Mandi 58 mm, Pandoh 50 mm, Mashobra 49 mm, Poanta Sahib 43 mm, Nagrota Suriyan 39 mm, Kothi 37 mm, Jogindernagar 36 mm and Palampur 32.2 mm.

First Published Date: 27 Jun 2023, 08:54 AM IST

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