80 tourists stranded in Kinnaur district heave sigh of relief as road opened after 50 hours

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 27

About 80 tourists stranded beyond Batseri on Sangla-Chitkul road in Kinnaur district for more than 50 hours following a major landslide on July 25, heaved a sigh of relief as the road was opened for one way traffic at 6 pm on Tuesday.

"The road has been cleared for one-way traffic and all the tourists would be evacuated before sunset and the road would be closed again for vehicular movement as a precautionary measure till we get a go ahead from the Public Works Department and team of Geological Survey of India (GSI)," said Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq.

Since, the area in the vicinity of the landslide stretch was inhabited, it was not possible to throw the muck down and road clearing teams resorted to controlled blasting to clear the patch. As many as 30 vehicles were yet to cross the slide stretch till the filing of the report.

The team of Geological Survey of India (GSI) will reach Kinnaur tonight. The team during its three-day visit would inspect the slide site to ascertain the cause and remedial measures, he said and added that detailed discussions would also be held with the team for rock mapping and treatment of about 15 -16 vulnerable spots, suggesting future course of action to strengthen the strata.

Earlier tribal Kinnaur district used to receive scanty rains, but for the past 3-4 years the area is receiving intermittent moderate to heavy rains resulting in frequent landslides, said a local.

Kinnaur is not only fragile ecologically but also falls in seismic zone 5 and a massive earthquake had rocked the district on January 19, 1975 but loss of human life was only 60 as the place was sparsely populated and there were few concrete structures as construction activity was less. The quake destabilised the strata and construction of hydro projects, roads, tunnels and concrete buildings has increased the frequency of slides.

Meanwhile, bodies of eight tourists who died in the tragic landslide have been handed over to their relatives at Himachal Bhawan New Delhi today morning while the body of Lieutenant Bapat was handed over to the army at Karcham which is airlifted to Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service
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