Himachal Pradesh landslide: The Mandi-Kullu highway has remained blocked since last evening following flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain in Himachal Pradesh
New Delhi: A traffic jam at least 15 km-long, no hotel room available and no clue on how long the wait will be — 200-odd people, most of them tourists, are living a nightmare after they were stranded due to a block on the national highway connecting Mandi and Kullu in Himachal Pradesh.
The highway has remained blocked since last evening following flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain in the hill state. According to officials, explosives are being used to blast heavy boulders blocking the road. The road will be open to traffic movement only after seven-eight hours, the officials said, according to a PTI report.
The commuters, meanwhile, are having a harrowing time.
NDTV spoke to Sohail Yousuf and Azaz Hasan, tourists stranded due to the massive road blockade. The two tourists from Delhi were on their way to Bhuntar airport when they got stuck in the blockade. “Multiple landslides took place between Mandi and Sundarnagar. At 10 pm, police stopped us and asked us to go back. The traffic jam here is at least 15-km long,” Mr Hasan told NDTV in a video interaction.
“No tourist here was prepared for this. There are families, kids. Some have booked whole buses. Some are waiting at dhabas, no one could find a hotel room. They are worried for their children,” he added.
Mr Hasan said these areas have power projects and tourist resorts, but there is no alternative road connecting them. “A highway is shut from 5 pm yesterday, but the road hasn’t been cleared even now,” he said.
Mr Yousuf said they have no idea when traffic movement will resume. “We don’t know if should drive ahead or go back. We received no prior information from police on this situation,” he said.
Mr Hasan said there should have been a system in place to inform people before they approached the blockade. “We left at noon yesterday and reached here around 10 pm. So we drove for about 5 hours after the landslide and we had no clue that it had led to this road blockade. And we are stopped here. By then, there is already a 6-km traffic jam,” he said.
Adesh Katyayan, another tourist caught in Himachal’s rough weather, was on his way to Kullu when a landslide took place in front of them and blocked the road. “We had to head back to Mandi, we spent the night there. Now we are again on the way to Kullu,” he said. He said at least 500 cars were stranded on the route he took and a lot of people spent the night on the road.
In a development that will worry tourists and their families more, the local weather office has issued alert for more rain and thunderstorms in Himachal over the next two days.