No link with hundreds of villages after heavy snowfall

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By Suresh Sharma, TNN | Feb 7, 2013, 02.35 AM IST

MANALI: With no working communication channels, hundreds of villages in Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts have lost link with the outside world after heavy snowfall in the last three days. Shoulder-high snow has wreaked havoc in Lahaul-Spiti valley while two to four feet of snow in Manali and upper reaches of Kullu has thrown life out of gear in the district.

On an average, Spiti valley has received 130cm snow in last 60 hours and residents have been forced to keep themselves shut inside their homes. In Lahaul valley, many residents have reportedly shifted to safer places fearing avalanches. Given the inclement weather condition, all educational institutions have been directed to remain closed for two more days. Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Bir Singh Thakur said they have not been able to contact villagers as all modes of communication have given up completely. "We have wireless stations only at few places. Our teams would visit villages on Thursday to ensure the safety of people. We have advised residents to move to safer places," he said. According to the DC, Keylong has received over 100cm snow in last three days. Villages at high altitude areas have received nearly 150cm snow.

Due to continuous snowfall, there is high possibility of avalanches as many layers of unstable snow has accumulated, which would tend to slide downwards. Residents from Lahaul reported that they have been hearing the sound of sliding of snow. Also, avalanches have been reported from Dhundi areas, near south portal of Rohtang tunnel. Snowfall has also affected digging of the tunnel for the last five days.

Manali town received 70cm snow since Monday morning. Hundreds of villages in Anni, Nirmand, Banjar, Lag valley and Manali are cut off due to blocked roads, power failure and dead telephone lines. Though the Kullu-Manali national highway is open for light vehicles, buses are dropping passengers 10km before the town. But, all internal roads in Lahaul-Spiti district are blocked completely.

Manali sub-divisional magistrate Vinay Dhiman said all efforts were being made to keep life on track. "We are making all efforts to keep roads open. We are keeping an eye on all activities happening in and around Manali. No report of accident has been received so far," he said.