As the oppressive heatwave gripping the country’s plains pushes a huge number of tourist to the relatively cooler hilly regions, several popular holiday destinations in Uttarakhand are witnessing massive traffic jams, forcing some visitors to return midway.
Choked by traffic jams and the heavy influx of tourists, the commuting time from Haridwar to the four Himalayan shrines (Char Dham) in Garhwal has more than doubled. It is now taking almost 18 hours to reach Badrinath from Haridwar, an official in Chamoli said.
Large swathes of the country have been searing under markedly high temperatures for the past several days, with the mercury hovering around the 50-degree Celsius mark in many areas in north India.
Over 80,000 vehicles pass through Haridwar on a daily basis these days, Haridwar SSP Janmejay Khanduri said.
Additional forces had been deployed to control the traffic but tourists continue ro remain stuck for four to five hours, he added.
The situation is not unique to Haridwar.
Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Dehradun, Rudraprayag, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Nainital are facing a similar problem.
According to Joshimath Block Pramukh Prakash Rawat, the debris left during the construction of all-weather roads had added to commuters’ woes beyond Rishikesh.
Though the widening of the roads was suspended due to the pilgrim season, the debris deposited on Chamoli-Joshimath stretch was contributing to traffic jams, Rawat said.
He said timely removal of the debris would have saved the situation.
However, Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadoria said the debris had been removed from most places and it was being removed from the remaining places on a war footing.
The biggest factor contributing to traffic jams was the rise in the number of small vehicles entering the state on a daily basis and a shortage of parking lots, she said.