Ski slopes of Himachal devoid of snow this yearFebruary 1st, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS
Manali (Himachal Pradesh), Feb 1 (IANS) For years a thick blanket of snow in Himachal Pradesh’s popular Solang slopes in Kullu district in north India has been attracting skiers from across the globe. But this year, this seems to be a thing of the past.Members of the tourism industry say erratic snow and rising temperature have taken a toll on ski tourism.
“This year the snowfall in Solang slopes is too scanty and erratic. You see, most of the slopes are devoid of good ice cover during this period,” Manali’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports Deputy Director Mahavir Thakur told IANS. The institute is conducting skiing courses on Solang slopes.
“It (rising temperature) is slowly taking its toll on skiing. Now the snow falls but melts quickly (as the average temperature has gone up considerably). The ski slopes, which normally used to have four to five feet of snow during these days, are totally bare.”
According to the meteorological office in Shimla, this year the Solang ski slopes had negligible snowfall, like many other high-altitude areas.
“The Solang slopes received the season’s first snow on Dec 20, but that melted within a few days due to increased temperatures. In January, the maximum snow (30 centimetres) was recorded on Jan 5. Throughout the season, the spells of snowfall were erratic,” said Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office.
He said that earlier the snow used to stay till June-end but in recent years it has been melting much earlier.
“In the last five years, there has been either negligible or no snowfall during December and January in most parts of the hill state,” he said.
Mehar Chand Thakur, a prominent travel agent in this town, said this year the skiing business had been badly affected.
“This year, most of the skiers, especially professional ones, are preferring to visit Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir due to good snow. Moreover, Kashmir Valley has now regained its tag of ‘Switzerland of India’ after a decline in militancy,” said Thakur.
“If still the weather obliges us with a good spell of snow in the days to come, then skiers will be back on Solang slopes,” he said.
Sanjay Verma, project officer with the state Department of Environment, Science and Technology, attributed the declining snowline in the state to rising air pollution, high intensity of human activity and deforestation.
“Over the years the arrival of tourists in the state has increased, which led to rise in pollution level. Even the spectacular Rohtang Pass is losing its white sheen due to excessive emission of carbon monoxide from the unregulated number of vehicles,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh attracts over eight million tourists every year.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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