Snow cripples life in HP, Shimla goes sans power

Heavy snowfall in several parts of Himachal, including capital Shimla and major tourist destinations, brought life to a grinding halt in the state on Saturday, with roads being completely cut off and essential services being disrupted. Shimla has received 100 cm of snow over the past three days, the heaviest since 2007, resulting in the 5 km stretch, between Kufri and Fagu, resembling a lake.

A PTI report said no bus had left or arrived at Shimla bus stand after 6 pm on Friday as roads were blocked due to heavy snowfall while partial traffic to Shimla and Manali was restored on Saturday afternoon. It added that the key tourist resort towns of Manali, Narkanda and Sangla were also cut off while traffic on the Hindustan-Tibet and the Kiratpur-Manali National Highways was halted beyond Shimla and Kullu respectively.

In Shimla, frozen pipes meant that the town went without water supply while newspaper and milk supply were also adversely hit. Several parts of the capital, including Mall Road, the state secretariat and peripheral areas were without electricity supply as people shivered in the extreme cold. The collapse of electricity lines, uprooting of poles and trees falling on power cables worsened the situation across the state even as HPSEB staff worked round-the-clock to restore power services.

In Shimla, two electricity poles and a tree were uprooted near the chief minister's official residence 'Oak-Over' cutting off power and disrupting pedestrian movement. Only a few employees and top administrative secretariat officers managed to reach their offices. "The supply of essential items like milk, vegetables, bread and news papers were restored though it was bit late in the day," said the Shimla deputy commissioner Dinesh Malhotra-who himself walked to office.

The only warmth was felt by apple growers and the tourism industry. Thousands have arrived in Shimla after news of the snowfall spread. While the Ridge and Mall Road were bustling with tourists, Kufri was closed. The Public Works Department (PWD) men were deployed to clear the snow on the main roads while the link roads were buried under heavy snow.

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