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Lahaul-Spiti tribals can now book helicopter services on-line

Sanjeev Kumar | Shimla |

Tribal folks of Lahaul Spiti, the cold desert of Himachal Pradesh, may no more have to stand in long queues and jostle for seats to avail state chopper services in winters when they get landlocked due to heavy snow on Rohtang Pass.
They can now book helicopter services for Bhunter in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh on-line. They would be informed about the reservation status through SMS.
The Lahaul & Spiti Administration has launched e-Udaan web portal through which the Lahaul Spiti locals would be able to book helicopter services online.
“Besides this, the contact number of nodal officers and Helpline numbers in Stingri, Udaipur and Bhunter would be available on the website,” Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul Spiti, Vivek Bhatia told The Statesman.
Bhatia said the information regarding airfares and criteria would also be provided on E-Udaan.
He said the locals can now logon to eudaan.somee.com or district administration website hplahaulspiti.nic.in to book their seats or check reservation status of their applications. “We have also made arrangements for providing them information through SMS,” he added, asking the people to register themselves at the four helipads.
As of now, locals and government employees in Lahaul Spiti are allowed to avail helicopter services two times (to and fro) in a season during winter helicopter service period. But these restriction are not applicable to the patients, they can avail helicopter service as and when required.
One is allowed to avail helicopter services more than twice in exceptional cases and that too with the prior permission of Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary (TD).
The tribal folks in Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh are virtually landlocked as Rohtang Pass is closed officially on 15 November for vehicles. The connectivity to tribal district is restored in April-May when the Rohtang Pass, located at a height of 13050 ft, re-opens for traffic after snow. 
The district administration does the required arrangements of food and fuel for people in tribal area ahead of winters, and the Lahaul tribals too keep themselves busy with festivals to pass the cold months, when even agriculture is not possible. 
The area lacks in private health care facilities and the government hospitals don’t have specialist doctors.  The locals had to carry the patients in emergency to Kullu or Chandigarh for treatment using helicopter services that comes once a week, with lot of uncertainty due to harsh weather. There are some deaths due to this every winter. 
However, there is light for these tribals at the end of Rohtang tunnel, which by-passes the Rohtang Pass, however, as the strategic central project of 8.8 kilometres tunnel, which will finally give round the year road connectivity to Lahaul valley, will still take couple of years to complete.