Rohtang is a meeting point of two great Himalayan Ranges; the Dhauladhars and the Pir Panjals. A divine confluence, you may call it. For me, it has become a ritual to visit Rohtang in winters.
Because that’s when the mountains appear closer.
You find people from all walks of life braving the bone chilling winds at 13000 feet. Some walking across to re-join their duties. Some patients going back home after being diagnosed with some deadly disease in Manali. And lest we forget, the builders of our roads and our homes; our Nepalese brothers and sisters.
It is always a great learning experience walking in the company of these brave men and women who cross Rohtang on foot every year while the authorities sleep.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently decided to hit below the belt and banned all the diesel vehicles going to Rohtang. It would have been wise to keep a check on the vehicular movement all these years. But no, that would have required them to keep a constant vigil and that would have meant leaving their Air Conditioning Offices in Delhi.
A review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by Taxi Operators so that irrational ‘Congestion Charges’ imposed by the NGT are reconsidered. Now hundreds of Taxi Operators would have to rely at the mercy of arrogant judges (who spend 83 days vacationing in Summer). If you are unaware, here’s what the NGT said in its recent order:
The NGT has imposed heavy congestion charge of Rs 1,000 on petrol vehicles, Rs 2,500 on diesel vehicles and Rs 5,000 on vehicles with seating capacity of more than six seats and restricted the number of vehicles to 1,000 per day.
I mean who the fuck is going to pay 2,500 extra just to visit Rohtang? Especially when they couldn’t construct even a proper parking space despite having collected truckloads of money in the name of Green Tax (Rs 22.65 crore from June 19, 2004 to August 31, 2012)
Usually the pass is thrown open by BRO (Border Roads Organization) in the month of May during first week. However, unexpected and late snow this year is delaying the opening of pass.
Having crossed this pass earlier in the month of April twice, this year it surely has broken all records. There were snow walls as high as 10-12 m at Marhi. Rahni Nallah was still not clear until 2nd May.
From Lahaul side, people had to walk all the way from Koksar to the top. The bridge at Koksar across Chandra, I was told, was in shambles and people had to risk their lives by clinging to the girders while crossing the river.
Every year, the State Government signs contract with a flying service to move people in and out of the Lahaul Valley during winters. Then people keep waiting for the copters to fly until May. Meanwhile copters do fly but most of the time they are busy ferrying ministers from one place to another.
Same procedure is repeated every year. That is why Rohtang Tunnel is important. It is said that the tunnel will throw open the ‘virgin’ Lahaul Valley to the public. And that will disturb the ecology of the region.
However, whenever you see an old Lahauli couple braving the heights and chilly winds of Rohtang, only then you realize why is it important to have a road.
Kuccha – Pakka doesn’t matter. A road is a must.
The sooner, the better.