Relief for Lahaul residents as Rohtang Pass reopens

November 24, 2018 12:41 PM

MANDI: The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) restored the Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Lahaul on the Manali-Leh highway, for vehicular movement on Friday afternoon. The pass was closed on November 12 following heavy snowfall.

Residents of tribal district Lahaul-Spiti heaved a sigh of relief with the opening of the pass. They suffered a lot after the closure of Rohtang, which left them with no road connectivity and telecommunication services.
They also demanded to move through the Rohtang tunnel, but the BRO authority refused to let them pass, citing security reasons as the tunnel is under construction.

After a lot of drama, the BRO had to clear snow from the road across the Rohtang Pass after some Lahaul villagers tried to use an under-construction tunnel as an alternative earlier this week. As many as 80 persons entered the tunnel forcibly to reach Manali on Monday. Some of them fell unconscious due to lack of oxygen.

This mounted pressure on the BRO as well as the state government, which raised the issue with the Defence Ministry to ask the BRO to engage its workforce and machinery to restore the pass.

BRO Commander Col AK Awasthi said: “With the tireless efforts of the BRO workforce, the pass has been restored for traffic. Our workers defied odds and worked in freezing temperature to clear the snow on the Manali-Leh highway via the Rohtang Pass to provide road connectivity to the people of Lahaul-Spiti.”

Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Lahaul, said: “We are thankful to the BRO as well as the state government for restoring the pass. In Lahaul, around 1,200 bags of potato produce (50kg each) are trapped in the Miyar valley. The people have been requesting the state government to make arrangements for its transportation at the earliest.”

He said the Rohtang Pass could shut anytime in the coming days due to snowfall and the government should take steps to transport the potato produce out of the Lahaul valley as soon as possible.

The movement of tourist vehicles is allowed up to Gulaba only and no vehicle will be allowed to move towards the Rohtang Pass.

Manali SDM Raman Gharsangi told The Tribune that the movement of tourist vehicles was restricted. “Only residents of Lahaul are allowed to travel between Kullu and Lahaul via the Rohtang Pass depending upon the weather conditions,” he added.

Every year, the Rohtang Pass is closed for traffic on November 15, but this year, tribals forced the BRO to restore it even after the official deadline.

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