Kullu, April 11
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started the snow-clearing operation on the Manali-Rohtang road. However, the visitors will have to wait longer this year to visit the Rohtang Pass, the 13,058 feet high major tourist attraction.
Earlier, the BRO used to start clearing snow to restore the Rohtang Pass in the last week of February and accomplish the task by the first week of May. But after the opening of Atal Tunnel, the BRO is giving priority to restore the Manali-Leh highway.
Shabarish Vachali, 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) Commander Colonel, said some parts of the Manali-Sarchu-Leh road were still experiencing avalanches and the BRO machinery was engaged in maintaining and keeping the road travel-worthy for Army vehicles.
He said the snow-clearing operation towards the Rohtang Pass had been started from the Koksar side in the Lahaul valley.
The beneficiaries associated with the tourism industry have said the Rohtang Pass is a major attraction among the tourists and it is the backbone of the tourism industry in Manali. They apprehend that the tourists will not be able to enjoy the snow at the Rohtang Pass if it is restored late. At present, the vehicles are being allowed only till Kothi. However, as there is no snow there. The administration should permit vehicles till Gulaba or the nearest snow-point from Manali. They have demanded that the work of restoration of the Rohtang Pass should be completed soon.
Skiing operator Sanjay said most tourists were thronging the Lahaul valley to witness the snow and the business towards Rohtang had dipped sharply. The tourism beneficiaries have said Rohtang is a world famous tourist destination and the government should ensure steps to preserve its grandeur.
Manali Congress president Harichand Sharma said the delayed restoration of the pass would adversely impact the tourism industry. He said the snow had disappeared from the Solang Nullah and the government should be sensitive towards the livelihood of the masses and remove the barrier installed at Kothi and allow the tourists till the snow-point.