Kullu, March 31
The strategically important 9.02-km-long Atal Tunnel, gateway of Lahaul valley, registered a record passage of 5,674 vehicles on Sunday. The earlier record of 5,450 vehicles passing through the tunnel was registered on December 26 last year. Tourists visiting Manali are crossing the tunnel to witness snow in Lahaul valley. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has not yet undertaken snow-clearance operation on the Manali-Rohtang road this year and vehicles are so far allowed only till Gulaba, where there is no snow.
The district administration had not yet started providing permits as per the guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). During peak tourist season, everyday only 1,200 vehicles, including 800 petrol and 400 diesel having online permits, are allowed to cross the Gulaba barrier for tourism purpose as per the directions of the NGT. The permit for light motor vehicles and medium utility vehicles is Rs 550 and for heavy motor vehicles it is Rs 600.
The district administration has developed a website to provide online permits for vehicles to visit the Rohtang Pass but seeking them is a Herculean task during the tourist season as the permits are booked within a few minutes after being released online. Tourists have to face a lot of hassle to seek online permits and many of them are deprived of visiting the Rohtang Pass. Some of them have to wait for days together. Tourists many times rue that taxi operators having permits charged exorbitant fare for going to the snow point. A local said tourists were fleeced as the permits were not easily available and traffic jams on the narrow road add to commuters’ woes.
With the opening of the tunnel, tourists have now easy approach to Lahaul valley. Now they don’t have to pay hefty fare or seek permit to witness snow.
Lahaul and Spiti DC Pankaj Rai said toilets and dustbins had been set-up in Sissu. Lahaul and Spiti SP Manav Verma said adequate parking arrangements had been made and police personnel had been deputed at various places for traffic management. He added that there was no problem of congestion and adequate resources had been put in place to cater to the expected rise in the number of vehicles.
Seeking online permits a Herculean task
- The district administration has developed a website to provide online permits for vehicles to visit the Rohtang Pass, but seeking them is a Herculean task during the tourist season as the permits are booked within a few minutes after being released online.
- Tourists have to face a lot of hassle to seek online permits and many of them are deprived of visiting the Rohtang Pass.