Kullu: District administration’s efforts in keeping tourists away from going too close to River Beas for photography or amusement purposes are proving insufficient as about half a dozen persons, who were either tourists and locals, have drowned in the fast flowing river in the last one month.
Kullu-Manali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country witnesses a heavy influx of tourists during the summers, every year, though tourists do visit the beautiful valley throughout the year. But when it comes to peak season, sudden influx of tourists appears to be challenging the district administration, especially when it comes to ensuring safety.
As snow melts in the higher mountains increase, water flows in River Beas and other rivers of the valley these days pose a threat to life of tourists and others, who attempt to go too close to their banks for enjoying a picnic or in taking a selfie against a scenic background. A sudden surge in the water flow or a slip over a rock can flow away an individual or a group and lead to death by drowning in the river before any rapid emergency service can reach the accident site.
On 30th June, 2016 reports of accidents along the river claimed the lives of at least 6 people in Kullu-Manali valley, which included both tourist and local residents of the valley.
A major accident on 4th June, 2014 had washed away 24 engineering students for a Hyderabad college because of a sudden surge in river water levels due to release of surplus water from an upstream hydropower storage dam.
Following the accident and on directions of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the district administration was asked to put appropriate signage and other measures in place to prevent people from approaching the river up close.
The administration has been claiming that sufficient measures have been put in place but spate of accidents on 30th June only show that it is not proving to be enough.
District magistrate Hand Raj Chauhan, when contacted by Hill Post said, ‘’the administration has put up signage at many places to alert tourists about the dangers of going too close to the river and police and home guard personnel have been deployed at various places to keep a check on violators.”
A valley resident Dheeraj Sharma says, “the administration’s efforts are not enough. Though signage has been installed and police deployed police at placed but there are long stretches that still need to be covered properly.”
Pankaj Thakur, another residents adds, “if some of the more vulnerable points are also brought under regular surveillance, it could save a lot of precious lives from being lost to the fury of a river.’’
As the district administration readies to revise its safety and prevention plans, a threat of more accidents in the rainy season looms large because sudden weather changes is known to increase water flows without much warnings downstream.
A theater artist, a script writer and a TV anchor, news is something that grips Renuka. She lives in Kullu.