Manali: With Himachal Pradesh government failing to put infrastructure in place for tourism in Manali, thousands of tourists visiting this popular destination are left disappointed as they are not able to see snow on Rohtang despite having obtained online permit to do so. Long traffic jams, delay in opening of Rohtang pass for tourists and high taxi charges are have created chaotic conditions in Manali which is leading to scuffles between tourists and local authorities.
Tourists, on the name of snow point, are being allowed to visit Marhi, 34km from here, where in fact snow has already melted away. Little patches of snow, which have now turned ice, are available near Marhi. The permit that tourists are booking online after paying permit fee of Rs 500 and congestion charges of Rs 50 has clearly written on them “permit to visit Rohtang”. Claiming that when they have received permit to visit Rohtang, why they are forced to stop at Marhi, tourists are scuffling with the police and local authorities. Many tourists were reportedly boarding the buses bound for Lahaul valley to reach Rohtang pass where snow is available in abundance.
Thousands of tourists are visiting Manali every day but lucky ones are getting permits or taxis that already have permits. Daily limit to issue online permit to go to Rohtang and areas beyond Gulaba is 800 petrol and 400 diesel engine vehicles. While some tourists are ready to pay any amount to get cab to Rohtang, those who are not getting permits are requesting the local officers and people at Gulaba barrier to let their vehicles go to Rohtang. This is resulting in minor scuffles. The tourists, who already possess permits, are having scuffle with police that when they have permit to visit Rohtang then why they are being stopped at Marhi.
District tourism development officer Rattan Gautam said the online system is new and efforts are being made to streamline everything. “Rohtang pass will be thrown within four days. Work is on to make adequate parking space. We are requesting tourists to cooperate with us. Only 1,200 vehicles are allowed to cross Gulaba check post every day.”
On Wednesday, the first day of permit system, authorities had tough time dealing with tourists. At Marhi tourists were showing police the permits to visit Rohtang at the check post and asking them to open the barrier for them to visit Rohtang pass as they have legal permits. Police and officials from tourism department had to convince them that Rohtang has no parking facility and the entire region, including Marhi, is also part of Rohtang.
Kullu administration had requested Border Roads Organization to remove snow and make parking places on Rohtang pass which is delaying opening of Rohtang top for tourists. Kullu additional district magistrate Vinay Singh Thakur said three JCB machines have been hired to remove snow on Rohtang pass to make adequate parking space for tourist vehicles. “We are expecting to open Rohtang for tourists by coming Sunday. Facilities like eco-friendly toilets and police security will also be arranged,” he said.