Though the Lahaul – Spiti district administration has officially closed the Manali-Leh highway for tourists and other travelers a large number of them are still travelling on the road taking risk.
The road was officially closed on September 15 this year like decade long practice when the Lahaul – Spiti administration had lifted its rescue post from Sarchu located on the border of Himachal and J&K . The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) had also suspended its bus service on this route on September 15.
The Lahaul – Spiti administration sets up police post every year at Sarchu to keep tag on vehicles plying on this road and help and rescue the travelers / tourists in case of any eventuality.
However, a large number of adventure tourists are still travelling on the highway by using their personal or hired vehicles taking risk. Some of them are travelling on their motor- bikes tells a Dhaba owner from Jispa.
Similarly, some transporters are still engaged in replenishing supply of items for winters and trucks are being operated on this route.
The early snowfall few days back has made the highway slippery at few places making the travel riskier.
The Regional Manager of HRTC depot Keylong Mangal Chand Manepa said, “We had withdrawn the HRTC bus service on the Manali- Leh highway as it has become riskier to ply the bus service on the route.”
He said , “ Last year also a thousands of tourists were stranded at many places due to sudden snowfall who had to be rescued by requisitioning specials helicopters from the Indian Air Force .”
SDM Keylong Amar Negi said, “The decision to withdraw the rescue post from Sarchu on September 15 was taken as per our official schedule. and recent snowfall has made the travel on this road risky ”
“We have advised travelers to avoid travel on this highway as it has become slippery at few places and after September 15 the possibility of sudden snowfall increases manifold on the highway “he adds.