Sunday, 29 July 2012

Decreasing snow cover, increasing temperature ignite fear of global warming

Himachal Vacation Travel News

MANALI: Strengthening the belief of global warming, high altitude hills in surroundings of Manali are losing their snow cover at unusual high temperature and worse thing is that one can climb up to 15,000 feet even with a single shirt. Yes this is impact of global warming, claim scientists.

Snow has completely disappeared from 13,050 feet high Rohtang pass and tourists are enjoying climbing here without proper woollens. Rohtang had received over 50 feet snow during winter months and snow accumulation here was about 35 feet in first week of May when snow from Manali-Rohtang highway was cleared. According to local trekkers and guides, despite heavy snowfall in this winter, snow cover on all mountains including Deo Tibba, Hanuman Tibba and Seven Sister peaks is very thin due to fast melting of snow.
Aerial view of Himalayas
Mountainous regions of Lahaul-Spiti district, popularly known as cold deserts, are warmer than Shimla, Nahan (Sirmaur) and many other low altitude regions. In July, the average maximum temperature here is more than 25 degrees Celsius. Residents of Lahaul-Spiti are wearing summer collections similar to Punjab. Snow has almost disappeared from the adjoining peaks which otherwise used to work as coolant for the valley.

“There are no sign of snow on Rohtang pass and it has melted away even on the higher mountains,” Dhani Thakur, trekker and owner of Himalyan Eagle Adventures, said who has been scaling the Himalayan mountains for last 15 years. He adds, “Certainly the mountains had received heavy snowfall in winters but the snow accumulation is decreasing very fast.”

According to sources, most of the people in Manali and other hilly areas of Himachal are now going for AC cars which was considered a stupid thing some years back. Residents are now purchasing air conditioners for their homes. However the nights are cool in inhabited mid and high hills with average minimum temperature at 15 degrees Celsius but scorching heat is of day is forcing people to take a dip in cold water.

Resident of Keylong, Sher Singh Bodh, said he had never observed the warm blowing winds in the valley but gradual increase in temperature is worrying the residents. “Snow on peaks is melting very fast and it could be observed easily by river Chenab which is in spate and rising each day. It is unbelievable that most of us are not used to fans but had to buy one,” he concerns.
Dr Jagdish Chander, geography and environmental impact assessment scientist with Kullu based Govind Ballabh Pant institute of Himalayan environment and development, says common men too are now able to identify the signs of global warming which is impacting their daily life. “It is true that Himalayas are getting warmer gradually and fast melting of snow at populated areas is just an example. Extreme cold in winters and high temperature in summers is caused by pollution and increasing human intervention with nature,” he added.

It is noticeable that Rohtang pass had experienced snowfall during June and July months in last some years but conditions are quite opposite this year. Concerned about the increasing temperature on mountains and receding glaciers, a high level committee of scientists of Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) had an important meet in Manali to discuss the impact of global warming this year.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Kullu rivers in spate, administration imposes ban on rafting

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Kullu administration has imposed complete ban on river rafting till September 15 with immediate effect. The decision has been taken after the water level of river Beas has increased suddenly due to fast melting of snow and monsoon rains.
Water of Beas, Parvati and other rivers of Kullu is flowing above the normal level. Given the safety of the tourists, administration has ordered all rafting operators to stop their services for next two months. Also the paragliding at Solang valley would be banned after July 15 till September 15. Operators who would not abide the rules would have to lose their license to provide the service forever.
River rafting in river Beas in Kullu
Kullu deputy commissioner Amitabh Awasthi said that the rafting in river which is already in spate is dangerous and the water sports have been banned till September 15 under River Rafting Act 2005. “Usually the ban on rafting is imposed after July 15 every year but given the alarming level of water we have instructed all the operators to stay away from the waters,” he said, adding that rule breakers would be dealt with strictly.
Awasthi added that according to Himachal Pradesh Aero Sports Rules, 2004, the paragliding would also be banned after July 15. As hundreds of adventure enthusiasts from across the world are coming to Kullu every day, apart from disappointing them, ban on rafting is going to affect the livelihood of hundreds of locals.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Monsoon hits tourists’ arrival in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Vacation Travel News
SHIMLA/MANALI: Monsoon rains are being awaited by farmers eagerly in Himachal but tourism entrepreneurs are praying for delay in showers which already have started showing its impact as the state is registering a huge decline in tourists’ arrival from mid and south India where showers have lowered the temperature.

Monsoon rains in India are vital for the farm output but dramatically it is harmful for tourism in the hills as the heat buster showers gradually slow down the pace of tourist inflow as it start covering the country. Travel agents say very few tourists from Karnataka, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai and other monsoon rich areas are on way to Himachal. Over 80 per cent tourists in Himachal are only from Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana where heat is still persisting due to pre-monsoon showers.
Monsoon affects Himachal Tourism
A renowned travel agent from Delhi, Harsha Tripathi, said monsoon is bringing with it the bad news for Himachal and other hill stations that summer season is going to finish soon. “People from mid and south Indian states who do not have booked their holidays in advance are not interested in visiting the hills in search of soothing cold breeze. Himachal would most probably see 50 per cent decline in tourist arrival after first week of July,” he calculates.
The summer heat in country drives the people to Himachal in May and June. Monsoon covers the entire country till mid July and leaves no reason to visit hill stations to get respite from heat. Hoteliers in Manali say they have good booking only till July 10 and would be applying the off-season tariff from July 15.
Ajit Shukla, a hotelier in Manali, said almost all the hotels are occupied only by tourists from Punjab and Delhi and the occupancy is likely to drop below 50 per cent after July 10. He adds, “Duration of summer season in Himachal totally depends on monsoon. Once rains bring down the temperature, we declare it the complete off-season and dropping tariff is the only way to attract tourists.”
Adventure season in Himachal picks up the pace with arrival of monsoon but participation of only few people in adventure activities fails to bring happiness to the tourism industry. Hundreds of tourists from abroad are on way to Himachal for trekking, camping and jeep safaris but they usually stay in Manali and Shimla only for a night halt to start their onward journey to mountains. Except for adventure enthusiasts, fear of landslides and flood in rivers during monsoon keep the domestic tourists away from the Himachal.