Shimla: Rescuers in Himachal Pradesh have evacuated more than 50,000 tourists, comprising Israelis, from across the state, and the road connectivity to Manali has been restored as well as efforts are underway to restore the network in Kasol and its nearby places, officials said on Thursday.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu informed in a tweet that more than 50,000 tourists from Himachal Pradesh have been rescued in the last 48 hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I would like to thank our administration and staff from various departments who have worked round the clock to restore our roads, power, water supply and network connectivity,” he said.
The network connectivity has been restored in Manali, he added.
“Efforts are underway to restore the network in Kasol, with successful progress made today up to Jari, which is located three km from Kasol,” said Sukhu, adding, “If the weather allows, the network should be fully restored at Kasol in Kullu district by Thursday.”
On the evacuation of nearly 250 tourists in the snow-marooned Chandertal lake in Lahaul-Spiti district, the Chief Minister, who did an aerial recee on Wednesday, said his colleagues Jagat Negi and Sanjay Awasthy and the frontline workers and staff are working tirelessly, even at night, to restore the road at the Kunzum Pass under extreme conditions at minus 10 degrees Celsius and at 15,000 ft altitude with a lack of oxygen.
“I just connected to both of them through a satellite phone,” Sukhu added.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Indian Air force (IAF) pilots refused to land at the Chandertal for the evacuation of the tourists due to the absence of a heliport.
“There are over 250 tourists from all around the country stuck at the Chandertal lake. It is my government’s foremost priority to evacuate them safely,” said the Chief Minister.
He has deputed two ministers — Negi and Awasthy — to personally oversee and execute the rescue operation.
On Wednesday evening, both reached the Chandertal with the rescue convey, said acting Director General of Police Satwant Atwal, who is monitoring the rescue operation round the clock.
She said the first JCB machine, involved in clearing snow and roadblocks from the road, reached the Chandertal, raising a hope of early evacuation of the tourists who have been stationed in the rescue camps set up by the government for the past five days.
The tourists and locals have also been evacuated from Batal, located in the vicinity of the Chandertal that saw heavy snowfall this week, she added.
The acting DGP said six Israelis have been brought to police post in Manikaran in Kullu and the remaining 37 Israelis are stationed at Barshaini and all are safe and in healthy condition.
Likewise, 95 people, including a foreigner, were rescued to safe places in Sangla, Chitkul and Raksham in Kinnaur, another remote district, she said.
“You all have done khakhi proud!! More strength to everyone on ground,” Atwal tweeted.
Heavy to extremely heavy rains have battered Himachal Pradesh, triggering landslides and flash floods, inundating many areas and washing away road network across the state.
Principal Secretary, Revenue, Onkar Chand Sharma told IANS on Wednesday that the government has restored 2,800 of the total 4,800 affected water supply schemes. Similarly, most of the water pumping schemes have also been restored.
Around 885 JCBs, tractors, tippers and dozers have been deployed to restore road connectivity as 33 bridges were damaged and washed away and more than 1,100 roads were obstructed, he said.