Election Fever Over, Traffic Jams Hit Manali Wrecking Tourists Chill Out Holiday

Manali: With the Lok Sabha 2019 elections over, tourists who gave a miss to hill stations in May have started to make a beeline to Manali to get respite from the scorching heat of the plains.

The elections have badly hit the summer tourism of Manali as hoteliers claim they have never seen such a poor business in May month. With elections ended and hills of Manali still experiencing fresh snowfall, hoteliers believe they see a good tourist crowd till the end of June. The tourist footfall is increasing gradually but most of the tourists are ending up stuck in traffic jams for hours.

The charm of snow along Manali-Rohtang road is attracting tourists to Manali. A number of tourist vehicles entering Manali is increasing every day. But the long traffic jams at multiple places between Bhuntar, Rangi, Aleo of Manali and Marhi are ruining their holiday mood. While a one-way bridge at Dobhi and Aleo Bridge has become the worst bottleneck, NHAI has failed to stop sliding of a small stretch at 16 Mile and Samani where sometimes vehicles are forced to wait for 1 to 2 hours for their turn. The traffic is moving at snail’s pace on Bhuntar-Ramshila and entry points of Manali adding stretch of the highway where road construction is continuing. It has become a routine to face traffic jams from Manali to Marhi, the snow point of Manali.

The hoteliers say May and June are the months when lakhs of tourists throng Manali and most hotels remain occupied. They rue that not just elections but it is poor infrastructure that is irking the tourists and putting a negative impact on the tourism industry.

Manali Traffic Jams Irk Tourists (Photo: Sanjay Dutta)

Manali Hoteliers’ Association president Anup Ram Thakur said the condition of the road from Kiratpur (Punjab) to Manali is not good which is affecting the tourism. “Unscientific construction of four-lane highway without conducting proper study of the area is resulting in landslides and traffic jams. Despite the repeated request, NHAI is not bothered about tourism. A huge patch of mountain face is sliding on the highway near Manali town for last 6 months, causing inconvenience to tourists and local residents. Even students do not reach school on time. It is difficult to walk here on foot. Even government is not taking it seriously. Similar is condition at 16 Mile. At both the places, landslides are caused by cutting of the land haphazardly without making channels for water seeping from the mountain faces,” he said.

The hoteliers urged the government to take issue of landslides and traffic jams seriously as they fear it can badly affect tourism in June month as well. Not only hoteliers but taxi drivers and shopkeepers in Manali are disappointed with low tourist footfall in May. Everyone is now expecting good business in June month. These days’ tourists are being allowed to go till Marhi where they can get to see enough snow.

Vikram Thakur a resident of Manali said that it is not surprising to discover that regions with the highest number of vehicles on the roads experience higher levels of air and noise pollution on average. Cars are one of the biggest sources of pollution in Manali. What you might be surprised to discover is that slower moving vehicles cause more pollution than cars moving at freeway speeds.

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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  1. says: Teenu sharma

    If manali to chandigarh will be 4lane highway,then its not good for nature,himachal is devbhumi nd u r cutting the hills day by day,i visited manali last week a lot of hurdles as u entered in the himachal border,this is not good according to me because my fmily used to live in kullu,nd our secnd home is in delhi,we love the route very much because of the beauty of nature,but i don’t know why NHAI trying to spoil the beauty of himachal

  2. says: Nand Patil

    Well .. you are absolutely right. I came all the way from Mumbai to get rid of scorching mumbai heat but what I experienced over here is long traffic jams and absolutely no control or efforts to get the traffic moving smoothly. It took us 6 hrs to return from marhi to manali, the distance of may by just 30 to 35 kms. I never recommend my friends to visit himachal again.

  3. says: Rudresh

    Am in Manali tday.Good space t visit especially Rohatang
    Very poor infrastructure. Road jams for hours kills the enthusiasm. Need t have bigger roads nd proper traffic control. There was nobody from the traffic department when needed ie. early morning hours. Rest sites are very good

  4. says: Madhu

    Visited Manali May this year . ..followed by trip to Dharamshala. Abundant natural beauty but this is not for long with our callous pursuit of profits . The concrete structures in the form of hotels after mindless blasting of mountains, garbage allover in the absence of any solid waste management systems in place is ruining the hills like Manali . Govt has effectively banned the use of polythene bags but what about plastic and other environment destroying packaging materials including plastic bottles stern all over and dumped in nullahs . The construction of four lane Highway will be suicidal and counter productive . The myopic vision of our policy makers is sure to invite more disasters like the holocaust of 2013 in Uttarakhand

  5. says: Varinder

    Increasing population, rampant construction n unplannned gonna make Manali another kullu may be after 5-10 years. Construction should not be allowed in Manali at all. Tourists visits to Rohtang pass should be strictly restricted or the sensitive area will be destroyed. Just because livelihood of people r dependant on toursim doesn’t mean we risk destroying nature which would be disastrous in long term n would destroy the whole area. Excessive cars should not be allowed in hilly region n completely restricted in Rohtang pass.

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