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Himachal Pradesh Faces Traffic Woes Amid Tourist Influx; Thar driver Fined for River Crossing

Shimla: The festive season has led to a surge in tourist activity in Himachal Pradesh, with hill stations across the state experiencing heavy traffic congestion. Amid this chaos, a tourist’s unconventional method to avoid traffic jams has sparked controversy and legal action. A viral video shows the individual driving a Mahindra Thar SUV through the Chandra river in Lahaul Valley, a maneuver that has been criticized by locals for its potential danger and environmental impact.

The Lahaul and Spiti police, led by SP Mayank Chaudhry, responded by issuing a challan to the SUV driver under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. To prevent similar incidents, authorities have now stationed police personnel near the river crossing site. This incident occurred during a massive traffic jam on the Lahaul to Manali route.

Manali and other parts of the Kullu district, known for their scenic beauty and snow-covered landscapes, are popular destinations for Christmas and New Year celebrations. However, the influx of tourists and the resulting traffic have raised concerns among locals and officials alike.

Social media reactions to the SUV river crossing have been mixed, with some calling for stricter measures against such actions. Suggestions include community service penalties for offenders, highlighting a growing awareness of the need to protect the region’s delicate ecosystem.

The Atal tunnel in Rohtang, a critical link between Kullu, Lahaul, and Spiti, witnessed over 55,000 vehicles in just three days, indicating the scale of the current tourist wave. This increase, while beneficial to the hospitality sector, poses significant challenges for local administration and environmental sustainability.

Sanjay Kundu, Director General of Police in Shimla, urged tourists to follow safe travel practices and respect traffic regulations. With over 1 lakh vehicles expected in Shimla for the upcoming New Year celebrations and tens of thousands parked along city roadsides, the pressure on infrastructure and the environment continues to mount. Officials are calling for responsible tourism to ensure the safety and preservation of this popular Himalayan destination.

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