Heavy snowfall in Himachal throws life out of gear but cheers fruit farmers

Shimla, Jan 9 (IANS) Heavy snowfall, accompanied by blizzards, continued across Himachal Pradesh Monday snapping transportation links but bringing cheer to fruit growers in the state.

State capital Shimla saw a moderate spell of snowfall – 24.6 cm of snow – but recorded a minimum temperature of minus 2.9 degrees Celsius, the season’s lowest.

Other parts of Shimla district, especially the upper reaches, experienced heavy snowfall. These included Narkanda, Jubbal, Kotkhai and Khada Pathar. Reports said some of the areas in Jubbal, Narkanda and Kotkhai experienced up to three feet of snow in just a few hours.

‘Power cables have been snapped by the heavy snow,’ Rohit Thakur, a prominent apple grower from Jubbal, said. He said the area saw three to four feet of snow.

However, the heavy snow has brought cheer to apple growers in the region. ‘The prolonged dry spell is finally over. This spell of snow is good for the apple, peach, plum, apricot and almond crops,’ Thakur said.

Besides Shimla, other parts in the state too experienced snowfall.

Manali received moderate snowfall of 19 cm early Monday. It experienced a low of minus 1.4 degrees Celsius.

Kalpa, 250 km from Shimla, saw 8.8 cm of snow while Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district experienced 7 cm of snow. These towns saw the night temperature at 4.5 degrees and 5.7 degrees Celsius below freezing point, respectively.

The snowfall paralysed normal life and snapped road and air links. The cold weather resulted in the freezing of taps in posh residential areas in Shimla city such as the US Club and the Jakhu hills throughout the day.

Flights in and out of Shimla were cancelled with Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal cancelling his visit to Manali from here due to inclement weather.

Incessant snow also hampered vehicular traffic on the highways in Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba and Kullu districts.

Vehicular traffic to upper Shimla and Kinnaur district remained suspended throughout the day beyond Shimla city.

The state road transport corporation sent some buses to Rohru via Vikasnagar and to Rampur and Kinnaur via Basantpur and Dhami.

‘The road link to picturesque Dalhousie and Chamba towns was partially restored Monday,’ Superintendent of Police Madhu Sudan said.

The towns had remained cut off for two days due to heavy snowfall near Banikhet, which is located on the Pathankot-Chamba national highway.

The Met department’s forecast has said that Western disturbances – storm systems originating from the Mediterranean Sea and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region – would be totally withdrawn Tuesday.