Manali: Ten out of popular tourist townships 36 security cameras lying defunct, traffic forced to run on two major but run down old bridges and the road sinking at many places, safety and security of people in Manali is at the mercy of god.
Having spent lakhs of rupees, the police in Manali had installed 36 high resolution CCTV cameras in all streets and roads of the town two years back. The funds were provided by Tourism Development Council (TDC). Ten of these surveilllance 10 cameras at major places are out of order for nearly a year now but police have no funds to repair them.
The cameras have helped police in cracking many cases, nabbing suspicious elements and in smooth running of traffic. Recently a person stabbed a shopkeeper in Manali and the police after examining all the CCTV footages are having difficulty in piecing together the crime trail beacuse 10 cameras at major locations did not record anything.
“I had informed the district administration nearly a year back that 10 cameras are not working and are in want of maintenance, Puneet Raghu, deputy superintendent of police contends.
He added that he had demanded an annual maintenance charge to repair the cameras but the funds have not been released so far.
“Ten cameras are not working. They are spread over a vast area from Manali towards Palchan. The agency which repairs them is asking for the money,” says the police official.
Crime rate in and around Manali is on the rise due to increase in the floating population that mostly includes people visiting the place for holiday or business.
The CCTV cameras are helping police in managing the high tourist rush, high traffic within limited resources. The file with request letter to release funds was somewhere in deputy commissioner or additional deputy commissioner officer and an officer with tourism department confirmed that they have not received the file so far.
A bailey bridge on Beas River and another bridge near New Manali have grown too old to carry huge traffic burden. The bridges can collapse anytime. They are kept operational by doing some occasional maintenance.
Many portions of the road are sinking and government has no permanent solution to the problem. A stretch near Aleo is sinking for many years and the retaining wall there has developed many cracks. Another stretch near Sajla is sinking after landslide. Boulders keep rolling on the highway at two places just before the town.
Public works department sub-divisional officer PK Rana said the road near Manali is being diverted and widened.
“The process to seek permission from forest department is underway. There is possibility that the narrow and old bridge could be removed after we build the new road. The damaged portion of the road that is sinking has been blacktopped to stop water seepage and new plantation has been done to control soil erosion. We are also in the process of obtaining permission from the forest department to do the job,” said Rana.
Tall dry deodar trees which can collapse on crowd and buildings is another threat in Manali. One such incident had claimed two lives recently in the town.
Forest department said cutting such trees is a long process which is followed by forest department and forest corporation.
Photo 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.