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Season’s first snowfall in Shimla cheers tourists

Waiting for more than a month Shimla experienced snowfall (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@pahari_trader)

Shimla: After keeping Shimla at toes for over a month, Snow finally descended on the hill town bringing cheers to the tourists and apple growers, especially those waiting for the snow spell in the orchards to light-up prospects for a good crop.

Snow has already turned Rohtang Tunnel and Manali into white paradise though disruption of vehicular traffic on Manali-Keyong National Highway has caused some disappointment to the snow revellers.

Many roads beyond Shimla including Kufri, Narkanda, Kharapather and Rohru are blocked due to snowfall happening since last night.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), an active western disturbance is expected to dump scattered rain and snow of light to moderate intensity over Jammu-Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for next three days.

Joshimath—a township in Uttarakhand facing crisis due to land subsidence and sinking is worst hit by the snow throwing life out of the gear.

The higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh including the tribal belt of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur is also witnessing heavy snowfall.

The Himachal Pradesh, Traffic, Tourists and Railway police have issued an advisory for the tourists advising not to venture into some of the destinations where the roads have turned slippery or experiencing light to moderate snowfall.

Snowfall has come as the biggest relief for the orchardists who were worried over the next apple crop.

“There has not been a grain of snow in the apple areas for the past some months resulting in withering of the crop. Snow is an important ingredient for the crop. The plants need chilling hours for the bloom. I feel the snowfall is a welcome sign” says Satinder Chauhan, an orchardist at Rohru.

Over the past few years, global warming and unfavourable weather conditions have led to a major change in the snowfall cycle resulting in adverse impact on  the traditional apple varieties in Himachal Pradesh .The new apple varieties have,however, adapted to a low chilling period and there is no major impact on quality of the fruits. But, previous varieties like loyal and red delicious are showing signs of withering due to climatic changes and failed snowfalls.

“There is a need for diversification in terms of the fruits and also varieties” suggests Dr S P Bhardwaj, a senior horticulture specialist at Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry.