Shimla: Most of the 50-plus tourists from Bengal who were stuck near Rohtang Pass and other areas of Himachal Pradesh last week because of heavy snowfall managed to reach to safer places after managing to trek or hitch rides at exorbitant rates to lower altitudes, as per a report in the Calcutta daily, The Telegraph.
As per the report, among those still stranded are the 18 members of a group from Tamluk in East Midnapore, stuck near Keylong, 51 km from Rohtang Pass.
“We have been trapped here since Wednesday. On Thursday, we were supposed to start for Rohtang Pass but because of strong winds and continuous snowfall we weren’t able to venture out. Since then, the snow has just been piling up,” said a member of the group.
He alleged the Himachal government did not help them in any way. Those who had been able to make it back to Shimla or Manali from Rohtang and Chitkul are also unhappy with the role played by the local government.
Bengal civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee said the state government was in touch with the Himachal government to ensure the safe return of the tourists.
He criticised travel operators for misguiding tourists. “According to the Himachal government, it is unsafe to travel to places at high altitude, such as Rohtang Pass, after October 15. But operators turn a blind eye to such warnings,” said Mukherjee.
Mihir Patra, a 56-year-old schoolteacher from Dhakuria who had been stranded with his family at a dhaba 5 km from Rohtang Pass on Friday, said cars charged exorbitantly to ferry them to safety.
His 80-year-old uncle Sunil Baran and 65-year-old aunt Kalyani had to trek 15 km through the snow from Mirha to Lalapat after the snowfall subsided on Saturday since they could not afford to hire a car after paying several times the normal rates at the dhaba.
Avijit Das, 34, a trader from Howrah’s Belgachhia, who had been stranded in Kalpa, 255 km from Shimla, on his way down from Chitkul, also complained of government apathy.
This is another story of the gross mis management by the state government. While it leaves no stone unturned to issue statements in the media it has no control and interest to tackle the situation on ground.
The irony of all is that while the Himachal Chief Minister and the entire tourism department was busy in a tourism road show in Delhi promising moon to the tourists and the investors, this incident is an eye opener about the actual tourism ‘potential’ in the state.