Manali: In an initiative to boost the tourism sector that has been drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) has started electric bus services from the popular tourist destination of Manali to Rohtang Pass and Atal Tunnel.
The HRTC has resumed electric bus service for tourists to the 13,058 feet high Rohtang Pass and bookings can be made at the HRTC counter at Manali for Rs 600 per seat.
Kullu HRTC Regional Manager DK Narang said that although the HRTC has started the service with only three buses for Rohtang, the number can be increased on demand. The Kullu depot of the HRTC has been provided a fleet of 25 electric buses.
Narang further said buses having seating capacity of 25 passengers each will leave from Manali bus stand at 8 am, 8.30 am and 9 am.
The pass was thrown open for tourists on May 5. Only 1,200 vehicles per day, 800 petrol and 400 diesel, having online permits are allowed to cross the Gulaba barrier to go to Rohtang Pass as per the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Due to non-availability of permits, many tourists visiting Manali are deprived of the chance to visit Rohtang.
Many have to bear the hefty fare of taxis and sometimes have to wait for a couple of days to visit the mighty Rohtang Pass. Tourists have to struggle hard for online permits as the permits are sold out within minutes of their being released online during peak season.
Electric buses for Rohtang have been introduced to protect the ecology of the area by minimizing pollution. These electric buses will not require a permit for going to Rohtang. The tourists would stand to benefit as they would not have to face the hassle of seeking online permits for their vehicles.
According to sources the road condition is not good on the other side of Rohtang towards Koksar, due to which the buses are returning to Manali after halting at the Rohtang Pass for two hours. He said after the road condition to Koksar improves, buses will return to Manali via Koksar and Atal Tunnel and have a small stopover in Solang Nullah as well.
Sources added the bus will pass through Nehru Kund, Kothi, the waterfall located at Rahla, Marhi, Rahani Nala to reach Rohtang Pass. After this, the bus will reach Manali via Atal Tunnel, Rohtang and Solangnala via Koksar in Lahaul. For this, tourists have to pay Rs 600 per head.
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.