As many as 6,400 vehicles had used the tunnel just in 12 hours from 8am to 8pm on Sunday. (file photo)
MANALI: Record 7,276 vehicles, most of them carrying tourists, used Atal Tunnel at Rohtang between Sunday 8am and Monday 8am. The tunnel had not witnessed such a high traffic load since its inauguration on October 3 last year.
Starting Sunday morning, 3,848 vehicles entered the tunnel from its south portal in Kullu district and 3,428 vehicles entered from north portal in Lahaul-Spiti district. While nearly 90% of the vehicles belonged to tourists, rest were local vehicles, buses and goods carriers. Tourist are coming to experience the tunnel, visit Lahaul valley, Spiti valley and those heading to Ladakh.
Lahaul-Spiti superintendent of police Manav Verma said, “The traffic rush has broken all previous records. Majority of vehicles entering the tunnel from either side are tourist vehicles. The traffic is further diverting to Ladakh, Lahaul, Spiti and Pangi valley of Chamba district. To avoid traffic congestions, we are not allowing vehicles to park on the highway and tourists are allowed to park at designated spaces only.”
After witnessing bad time amid pandemic, the tourism industry of Himachal is witnessing extremely high rush following lifting of requirement of RT-PCR test report and e-pass to enter the state. All the major highways are witnessing unprecedented traffic and vehicles are plying in long queues. Due to travel restrictions and social distancing norms, tourists are travelling in private vehicles.
Be it tolls, nakas, green tax barrier, long queues are being witnessed everywhere. With Rohtang Pass opening only for local taxis due to safety reasons, most tourists are heading towards Atal tunnel and Lahaul valley.
As many as 6,400 vehicles had used the tunnel just in 12 hours from 8am to 8pm on Sunday. These included 2,905 tourist vehicles, 58 Leh-bound trucks, 284 Leh-bound light vehicles, 134 Spiti-bound vehicles, eight Pangi valley bound trucks, 39 Pangi valley bound light motor vehicles and 32 local trucks that entered the tunnel from its south portal and 2,940 vehicles that entered the tunnel from its north portal.
The previous 24-hour traffic record was set in March when , 5,674 vehicles had used the tunnel. On December 27, 2020, 5,400 vehicles using the tunnel in a small time period had almost jammed the approach roads to the tunnel.
Cops are not allowing parking at the portals while movement inside the tunnel is being monitored by security cameras. The warning signages have been put up outside the tunnel declaring that stopping vehicle inside the tunnel is an offence. Meanwhile, tunnel management is regularly monitoring the pollution-level inside the tunnel. The tunnel will remain closed for maintenance for three hours from 9pm on Tuesday night.