The Shimla-Kalka National Highway remained blocked for almost 14 hours on Saturday following a landslide at Shoghi, Shimla’s gateway town, and left thousands stranded. The landslide began at 4.30am and the road was opened around 7pm for small vehicles and private cars giving a sigh of relief to the state administration and PWD engineers, who worked hard to clear the debris. Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Malhotra said, “The movement of vehicles remained affected on the National Highway, which is a lifeline of Shimla. Since it’s weekend, tourists going to or coming back from Shimla faced huge inconvenience. Small vehicles were diverted to link roads via Shoghi and other areas.
The disruption brought life to a standstill in Shimla. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Vadra, who were travelling to Shimla from Chandigarh, also got stuck. Police and security officials escorted them to Shimla using alternate link road from Dharampur-Sabathu and Jubbal-hatti road. Sukul Sharma, a Ambala tourist, who was on his weekend drive with friends, said he was caught up in the traffic close to Shoghi and had to wait for six hours before being guided by locals to a link road to reach Shimla. The deputy commissioner said he will write to the PWD to take steps to ensure that machinery was kept at standby on the NH to undertake road clearance operation if any landslide happens at unstable portion of the mountain between Taradevi and Shoghi patch. Efforts will also be made to treat the portion that could further trigger landslides.