The Srinagar-Leh national highway was reopened for vehicular traffic on Thursday after a record 68 days of closure following heavy snowfall in January this year, officials said.
A trial movement was conducted successfully and a decision to reopen the road for civilian traffic will be taken after a joint inspection by the civil administration of Ladakh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Director General of Border Road Organization (BRO) Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhary opened the highway for traffic at Zojila Pass at an altitude of 11,650 feet.
Zojila is a strategic pass that provides an important link between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh and is important for the operational readiness of the armed forces. It was closed for about 6 months due to heavy snowfall. However, in the last few years, BRO has been reopening in a short period of time. This year it was cleaned in a record time of 68 days.
Talking to the journalists, Lieutenant General Chaudhary said that the opening of the pass is also very important from a strategic and socio-economic point of view.
“People from Ladakh were closed for about five-six months, but BRO has been opening this route earlier than usual and people can go to Srinagar for their needs or medical emergencies or for business and commerce,” he said. .
He said the re-opening of the pass would give an economic boost to the region.
“Once this route is opened, tourism will also open and the people of Kargil, Dras and Leh will benefit a lot from the opening of this route,” he said.
He said that this re-opening would also benefit the central government.
“To sustain our troops stationed in Ladakh, all supplies have to be airlifted, for which ₹7 crore rupees are spent daily. We have calculated the savings ₹400-450 crore, otherwise it would have to be spent on repairs, opening the road soon,” he said.
The director general of BRO said that the highway was kept open till January 6 this year, after which it was closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall.
The pass was open until January 6. In February, we decided to start clearance work on it, but with the safety of the workers in mind, we have operated and removed the snow in an orderly manner. “Transport has started running from today, now it has resumed operation in record time, this is a great achievement,” he said.
Earlier, people were thinking of opening the route in the month of May. But in the last few years, the road has been restored earlier. “Next year, we will try to reopen it sooner,” he added.
“We can easily move machinery, tanks, guns, etc. if required…so that it reaches the troops stationed in Ladakh,” said Lt Gen Choudhary during the re-opening of the Zojila Pass.
“This is the only route connecting Ladakh with the rest of the country. The Leh-Manali route is yet to open,” he said.
He said that the pass will be opened for public traffic within the next few days after assessing the road conditions and safety issues.
A citizen, Bakir Ali, said the population living on both sides of the pass was happy with the reopening.
“The pass has been opened earlier than previous years. As the holy month of Ramadan is about to begin, this route has been opened and will enable people to take care of their daily needs. We can now bring in fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.,” said Ali.
BRO has been breaking its own record in reopening passes. The road was opened for 110 days in 2021, 78 days in 2022 and only 68 days this year.
This story is published from the Wire Agency feed without modification to the text. Only the headline has been changed.