8 Dhaba’s pulled down, 17 others on Manali Rohtang road knock court doors

Manali: Facing strong resistance from Dhaba (roadside eatery) owners to protect their means of livelihoods, the Himachal Pradesh forest department on orders from the high court swung into action and removed 8 Dhabas from Marhi, 37 Km from here on Manali-Leh Border road close to Rohtang Pass.

Meanwhile 17 Dhabas owners have approached the High Court and obtained a stay order.

Dhabas demolist in marhi  along Rohtang Road
Heavy machinery deployed to pull down the Dhaba’s (roadside eateries)

With shopkeepers and Dhaba owners not ready to vacate from the encroached lands, foresters had put the offenders on notice and asked them to  vacate  the  lands  voluntarily by  May 16, failing which the department would forcibly removed them.

BL Negi, divisional forest officer (DFO) said that his team has inspected the whole area and asked the encroachers to vacate the lands.

“Being a livelihood matter, the Dhaba owners were not in a mood to remove get clear of the encroached lands and we are working to implement the High Court’s order. We have acted to get the land vacated after having served notice on the offenders, said Negi.

Earlier, a Kullu administration team that included the Deputy Commissioner surveyed Rohtang Pass area to prepare a strategy for eco-friendly tourism.

District administration official with police force
District administration official with police force

Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) has been tasked with constructing tented food stalls between Gulaba and Marhi and mobile vans are to be deployed to deliver hygienic  food at Rohtang Pass, on a daily  basis.

After setting up food stalls HPTDC would sublet them to existing shopkeepers District Tourism Development officer, Vinay Dhiman, said adding that no Dhaba’s would be allowed beyond Kothi to Rothang Pass. He further said that the Dhaba’s that have come up were totally illegal and don’t figure on revenue records.

Veena Bodh, owner of Himalaya Dhaba, speaking to Hill Post said that they were born and brought at the Dhaba premises since 1950 and have no other livelihood.

“On many occasion, we have even saved lives of numerous stranded tourists but now we will have nowhere to go,” said Veena.

Photos by: Sanjay Dutta

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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