Mandi: Heavy rains have triggered landslides and flash floods in Himachal Pradesh and a landslide on the Chandigarh-Manali highway that blocked the stretch between Mandi and Kullu and aerial shots of the area showed hundreds of commuters stranded on the roads.
35 roads have been blocked in Mandi
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an orange alert for today and tomorrow in the state.
According to the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) around 83 roads and two national highways have been closed in Himachal Pradesh. A total of 35 roads have been blocked in Mandi alone, it said.
"There has been widespread rain in the last 48 hours. Mandi district has received maximum rainfall in the last 24 hours. It is still raining. This condition will remain for about four to five days. An Orange alert has been issued for today and tomorrow," Surendra Paul, IMD Director, Himachal Pradesh said.
Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mandi, Sagar Chander today said that blocks on the roads and the national highway caused heavy traffic jams, resulting in many vehicles being stuck for hours, and even overnight, in some places in the State.
"There was a flash flood in the Khoti Nala area in Mandi district, because of which the National Highway there was blocked for several hours yesterday. It was an old two-lane NH road and not a new four-way. Since it was a Sunday there were a lot of tourists in Manali, who were returning," ASP Sagar Chander said.
"Tourists were returning in cars and buses that got stuck in a three-hour-long jam yesterday. The Nala has since been cleared and water has been diverted to clear the way," the police official said.
The ASP said clearing work is continuing in the heavy overnight jam in the Pandoh-Mandi area, due to multiple landslides, that are still hindering clearance work. "Meanwhile there is construction of the four-lane highway and landslides occurred at three to four places on the highway on this Pandoh-Mandi area and so the roads were blocked as well. These blocks were cleared by midnight.
Sudden, very heavy landslide
"There was a sudden, very heavy landslide in this area after that and so vehicles that were stuck on the road yesterday evening at 6 pm are still stuck on the Pandoh-Mandi road, and the queue of vehicles extended upto the Sundernagar side, the senior police official said .
"Work went on till 2:30 am but it had to be stopped because of the continuously shooting stones and intermittent falls from the landslide. The clearance work restarted this morning, but clearing the roads will take more than four hours. Machines are working at the from both sides," he said.
He added that efforts are being made to help the people stuck on the road and locals, including members of the Gurudwara had rushed to the commuters assistance.
He said that due to a flash flood in Bagipul in the Kullu district, the road has also been closed due to blockage.
"There is a lot of debris and clearance work has been underway since Monday morning. About 40 vehicles and a BMS student bus with around 55 passengers are stuck in the jam. They have also been stuck on the road since last night. Arrangements for food and sleeping were made with the help of locals in the area," the police official said.
Heavy rainfall alert for the next two days
The IMD has issued very heavy rainfall alert for the next two days, and there is possibility of more landslides.
On Sunday evening the Kullu-Kataula area, which is prone to heavy landslides, was hit by a landslide due to heavy rains. Roads there are also blocked and reopening the road would take around four to five hours, according to officials.
The Mandi-Joginder Nagar National Highway that has been shut since last night has, however been cleared and reopened and traffic movement is now restored.
Vikram, one of commuters stranded on the Chandigarh-Manali highway today said, "We arrived here at around 7 am but there was heavy traffic. We got to know about the road block due to a landslide. Authorities have said that it will clear by 1 pm. If it gets cleared we will move forward else we will go back."
A tourist from Scotland who was among those stuck on the highway said, "The administration has said that there is a landslide ahead. I don't have much information, we have been here since 5 am."
(With inputs from ANI)