The 434 km Srinagar-Leh highway is one of the two roads that connect Ladakh with the rest of India. After a hiatus of four months, the highway opens up again. By Upasana Singh

The national highway of Srinagar-Leh has been opened by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to allow the entry of trucks carrying essential commodities amidst the current lockdown. Since December, the highway was closed due to heavy snowfall that broke the record of previous 60 years.

 

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As per an order issued by the Divisional Commissioner, Ladakh, only a limited number of trucks and oil tankers will be permitted to move towards Leh until further orders. Despite the route receiving fresh snowfall, 18 tankers carrying essential commodities began their journey from the 11,516 ft high Zojila Pass that lies on the lower depressions of the Himalayan ranges, about 107 km from Srinagar.

The urgent need for stockpiling and restocking inventory of necessary household items and other related goods such as vegetables, fruits, petrol, and diesel in the Union Territory of Ladakh led to this resolution. As the sustenance of people depends on this highway, it was important to reopen it.

 

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The team of Project Beacon and Project Vijayak worked day and night to clear the snow-covered roads. This was a big challenge as about 30-40 ft of snow had accumulated at Zojila. Only 300-400 meters of road could be cleared per day due to avalanches in Sonmarg and the large amounts of snow in the Gagangeer area.

Although the administration of Ladakh was against the idea of reopening the highway, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the BRO was determined to open the road as it is the only way through which people of the region can receive essential commodities.

 

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The demand, quantity, supply, and distribution of goods in all areas of the district will be monitored and fixed by the Ladakh Hill Development Council (LAHDC).

The strategic national highway receives the heaviest snowfall during winter and remains closed for usually five to six months every year. As India remains under lockdown until May 3, no official notice has been issued regarding the movement of vehicles on road except those carrying essential commodities.

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