Snowfall takes heavy toll, Himachal struggles to restore normalcy

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TNN | Jan 24, 2013, 04.46 AM IST

SHIMLA: After a spell of heavy snowfall, it has become a herculean task for the Himachal Pradesh government to ensure power supply and open blocked roads to facilitate stranded people. It is being demanded that the government should declare the heavy snowfall as natural calamity so as to invoke disaster management plans and press Army into service to start relief and rescue operations.

People continue to remain stranded in Kinnaur with the country's ancient route, Hindustan-Tibet road, remaining blocked between Ralli and Thopan, sources said. Many people are stranded in Spiti and are demanding that Army should be pressed into service to clear the snow from roads. Sliding boulders and avalanches in Kinnaur has thwarted efforts at clearing the roads of snow. On Tuesday, a junior engineer and around half a dozen labourers were injured while trying to remove the snow, they said.

Heavy snow has also blocked the Udaipur-Killar-Kishtwar road that has prevented the chances of Lahaul residents to come out of valley, taking this route. Before the snowfall, a large number of Lahaul residents were taking this route to reach Kullu as limited chopper service has witnessed long queues of advance reservation.

The season's first snowfall had cut off Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi-Bharmaur, Bhara Bhangal, Chhota Bhangal, Seraj, Chauhar and Karsog, besides upper areas of Shimla district where around 100 main and link roads are still blocked and power supply is yet to be restored fully.

Heavy snow and avalanches have uprooted a large number of apple trees in Shimla and Kinnaur districts and situation is no different in Manali, sources added.

Shimla Zila Parishad vice-chairman Prahalad Kayshayp said that snow has resulted in heavy losses to horticulture sector in Shimla district. Theog, Narkanda, Kotgarh, Thanedhar, Jarol Tikker, Bagi, Ratnari and Rohru have suffered huge losses to apple trees, he added.

Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board chairman and managing director R D Dhiman said that snowfall has caused massive losses to transmission lines, standing poles and transformers. "We are calculating the amount of loss which is estimated to be in several crores of rupees," he said. Despite clear weather conditions, restoration of complete power supply would take time as damage is extensive, Dhiman said.