"Postpone Travel Plans": Himachal Official After Dharamshala Cloudburst

Tourists have continued to visit Dharamshala and its nearby hill stations in Himachal, despite several warnings by authorities of a third COVID-19 wave.

'Postpone Travel Plans': Himachal Official After Dharamshala Cloudburst

Damages caused by heavy rain after a cloudburst, at Mcleodganj near Dharamshala.

There was no respite for Himachal Pradesh's Dharamshala as a cloudburst triggered flash floods in the area, swept away buildings and cars and forced the airport and roads to shut down.

Tourists have continued to visit the place and its nearby hill stations, despite several warnings by authorities of a third COVID-19 wave, prompting officials to issue an advisory and request people to put their travel plans on hold for now, at least until the rain goes away.

"People are requested to postpone their travel plans to Dharamshala to avoid any inconvenience," the Deputy Commissioner of Kangra posted on their official Twitter account.

"Tourists who are already in Dharamshala are requested to stay put as heavy rains have damaged the roads, impacting the movement of traffic," Dr Nipun Jindal added.

Several videos have been shared by locals as well as the authorities, showing the damage caused by the flash floods in the Bhagsu Nag area, adjoining Mcleodganj. Heavy rain also lashed the Kangra district, 58 km from Dharamshala.

A government school building at Bhagsu Nag was also damaged and adjacent hotels there were inundated, the videos showed.

"Due to inclement weather and heavy rains, all incoming flights to Dharamshala airport at Gaggal have been cancelled," airport's traffic in-charge Gaurav Kumar told news agency PTI.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "The situation in Himachal Pradesh due to heavy rains is being closely monitored. Authorities are working with the State Government. All possible support is being extended. I pray for the safety of those in affected areas."

According to the information received from the weather department, there is a forecast of heavy rains on July 13 (tomorrow) as well, the Deputy Commissioner of Kangra said. "The weather from July 14 to 16 is also predicted to be bad. District officers of all departments in Kangra have been ordered to remain vigilant," Dr Jindal said on Twitter.

The advisory for tourists comes as thousands have flocked to the hill station, since the Covid lockdown restrictions were lifted, forcing the government to issue warnings over violations of Covid rules in the recent days.

Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy voiced concerns today about crowds at popular hill destinations and other tourist spots, saying that the government does not want to stop tourists but certain protocols must be followed to keep Covid at bay.