A view of NH 505 at Kaza in Spiti. Old photo, used for indicative purpose only

Himachal Pradesh rainfall havoc: Border Roads shine amid mainland chaos

Shimla, Sept 12

In the wake of heavy rainfall, mainland Himachal has witnessed significant disruptions in vehicular traffic, with border roads proving to be the saving grace. The people of Kinnaur district, which enjoys a less landlocked status compared to certain parts of Lahaul-Spiti, are beginning to appreciate the crucial role played by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) in maintaining and constructing roads.

Recent rains have left National Highway 5 (NH-5) and National Highway 3 (NH-3) in disarray, both of which were in the process of being converted into four lanes between Ambala-Shimla and Chandigarh to Manali. Even the iconic Shimla-Kalka Rail, which has been in operation for over a century, has been out of commission for the past two months.

When it comes to guiding tourists and travelers along the safest and most hassle-free routes, tribal and village roads, especially National Highway 505 and Manali-Leh NH-3, are emerging as preferred choices. The Kinnaur district administration has even issued orders to utilize the 650 km long highway from Recong-peo to Chandigarh via Tabo and Kaza, despite it being a longer route compared to the 320 km NH-5.

Also read: Landslide on NH 5: Residents of Kinnaur and Spiti facing challenges

A landslide near Nigulsari in Kinnaur has forced both Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts to rely on rugged and rough border roads to transport essential commodities and agricultural produce to markets. While NH to Shimla is now open to tourists, traffic jams are making it equally challenging to visit this popular tourist destination.

On the Kalka-Shimla NH route, Chakkimod remains a bottleneck for heavy vehicles, causing significant delays. The ongoing apple season and frequent bus traffic are further congesting the highway.

During the monsoon season, vehicular traffic remained open on all the border roads, unlike the mainland, where around 50 bridges and hundreds of roads are still unfit for full traffic operations. In Mandi and Kullu districts, approximately 250 school buildings have either been affected by heavy rainfall, damaged due to landslides, or had their access roads washed away.

Despite the receding monsoon rains, many schools in the rain-affected regions remain non-operational, posing concerns about the safety of students and their attendance. The rain-affected state is not only experiencing heavy losses in the hospitality and tourism sectors but is also witnessing challenges across its entire economy due to the torrential downpours.

To ensure the supply of LPG, essential commodities, and perishable vegetables to the market, authorities have been forced to divert vehicular traffic and rely on transshipment. Bailey bridges and power spans are being installed at numerous locations to reconnect the severed regions.

While hill stations including Dharmshala, Dalhousie, Shimla, Kasauli, Chail, Kufri, and Narkanda have reopened for tourists as the monsoon rains recede, the situation remains dire between Recong-peo-Sangla, as well as on the Mandi-Kullu-Manali route. NH-5 has recently been affected at Nigulsari, rendering it inaccessible for travelers attempting to reach Recong-peo via Rampur on NH-5.

The damage caused by the recent heavy rainfall is expected to take several months for state authorities and the National Highway Authority of India to rectify and restore normalcy to the affected regions.


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