MANALI: After Baralacha pass and Kunzum pass, the highway to Rohtang pass is set to open for vehicular movement in record time as snow in the area is melting fast due to rise in temperature.
This is for the first time in years that Rohtang is not covered with a 10 to 40ft thick blanket of snow. Only a thin layer of snow, that too in small patches, is covering the 13,000ft high mountain in March. Gulaba and Marhi between Manali and Rohtang, which used to remain covered with 5ft to 20ft snow in March, has no snow. As a result, the highway exposed itself without the need to remove snow.
The highway is clear till Chumbak Mor and will be open till Marhi in a few days after snow from some avalanches that blocked the road melt. Border Roads Organisation (BRO) will clear the remaining snow till Rohtang in a few days.
Manali sub-divisional magistrate Raman Gharsangi said the area has very less snow this year and the road is clear between Marhi and Chumbak Mor. “BRO officials have been directed to clear snow from the highway. Possibly, this year Rohtang pass will open earlier than expected but tourists will be allowed only after a meeting with the stakeholders,” he said.
Rohtang pass is a major summer destination of lakhs of tourists who throng this mountain pass to see snow even in the peak summer. Possibility of early opening of Rohtang and very little snow on the peaks have disappointed hoteliers as snow on the pass can melt earlier than usual. Usually, tourists get to see snow at Rohtang till July. This year, there is the possibility of the snow disappearing in May.
If the region does not get more snow in the next few days and if temperature keeps increasing, Rohtang may leave many tourists disappointed with no snow.
Meanwhile, Manali-Spiti and Manali-Leh highways are expected to open for vehicular traffic within two weeks. Baralacha pass and Kunzum pass also have just 3ft to 5ft snow, which is less than half the expected depth. Solang valley has no snow and the north portal of Atal tunnel also has a thin layer of snow, which will also melt in a few days.