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Intense heat in plains leaves Shimla, Manali overbooked, choked; many tourists return

Shimla: Intense heat in the plains, including India's capital, New Delhi and northern cities in Haryana and Punjab, has turned as a boon for Shimla and other popular hill destinations like Manali, Kullu, Manikaran, McLeodganj and Kasauli hard.

There is virtually no rooms available for the walk-in tourists as most hotels, guests houses and resorts are running full to their capacity owing to huge rush of holidaymakers. Only those coming with advance bookings and online reservations are having comfortable stays.

The tourists' arrivals in the hill towns have gone-up suddenly during one week though it has also brought nightmare like overcrowding and massive traffic jams on the roads.

Yet, many complain about facing unexpected traffic jams and inconvenience in reaching their destinations. Shimla-Parwanoo Highway, which is a lifeline for the capital town, is witnessing huge rush of tourists vehicles causing hold-ups. The same problem has also cropped-up in Bilaspur-Kullu-Manali Highway where the NHAI has taken-up widening work as part of the four-lane project.

But, the hoteliers are thrilled over tourists to rush.

"We are absolutely packed. It's mainly due to summer heat and all those advantages Shimla has in its cool climate. There is no shortage of water this year as an added bonus," said Sanjay Sood, president of the Shimla hotels and restaurants association. Most places are so overcrowded that the tourists are unable to find rooms and thus are returning back.

Traffic congestion in Shimla and Kullu-Manali has added to woes of the tourists. The road leading to Rohtang Pass (13,059 feet) has been witnessing frequent traffic jam holding-up tourists for hours.

In 2018, Shimla had witnessed an unprecedented water crisis. There was no water supply for eight days that forced the hoteliers to put-up notices asking tourists not to come to Shimla.

"This time, we are appealing the tourists to visit us without any apprehensions about water scarcity or discomforts. There is no shortage of water. The only request we are making tourists is to check your booking before you randomly pick-up their drive to the hill. The walk-in tourists are bound to face problems and get fleeced," says Sanjay Sood.

The water availability in Shimla has improved substantially from 44 MLD to 50-51 MLD due to measures taken by Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC).

"We have replaced the main water supply line, which was almost a century old and had leakages up to 37 per cent of water. New pumps have also been installed Gumma water supply scheme, which is Shimla's main sources. The lift supply line of Giri water scheme has also been redone. Thus, there is now sufficient water," said Pankaj Rai, Commissioner, Shimla Municipal Corporation.

In fact, drinking water crisis had remained the biggest factor hitting the tourists' arrivals.

But Shimla also getting heated during the day. The day temperature in the town was 30.3 Degrees C, which was highest in the season.

"The tourists mostly sent their day at tourists' places like Kufri, Naldehra, Narkanda, Fagu or Chail. When they return in the evening Shimla gets cool," claims Sandeep Sood, a taxi operator.

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