Ladakh rues delay in reopening of Srinagar-Leh highway

The delay in the reopening of the strategic 434-km Srinagar-Leh national highway for vehicular traffic after snow clearance has caused great resentment among residents in Kargil and Leh districts. They have accused the authorities of “showing least concern” to their hardships.
Residents said the snow clearance operation started on March 7 and it was completed on March 18. Since then, the road had not been thrown open to public on “flimsy ground”.
The Beacon, the pioneer project of the Border Road Organisation (BRO), which is responsible for snow clearance and maintenance of the Srinagar-Leh highway, has announced reopening of the road in the first week of April.
The road was closed in December after the high-altitude areas in the region, including the toughest Zojila (12,000 ft), experienced heavy snowfall.
“It is surprising that the state government and the BRO have turned a blind eye to the miseries of people in Ladakh, particularly Kargil. The snow clearance operation was completed on March 18, but the authorities preferred to delay the reopening of the road for traffic despite the fact the region has been facing acute shortage of essential commodities,” Haji Mohammad Hanifa Jan, district president, National Conference, said.
He said the government must take into account the hardships being faced by patients, students and businessmen from the region. “Haji Anayat Ali, Legislative Council chairman, along with Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan, incumbent CEC of Kargil Council, and the Deputy Commissioner inspected the road up to the linking point on March 28 and their vehicles easily passed through Zojila. It was a mere photo session as nothing constructive came out of this. Zojila experienced very less snowfall this year and the road could have been opened much earlier,” he alleged.
All-weather road connectivity has always remained a major issue in the Ladakh region as it severely faces the shortage of essential commodities and goods when both the highways, including the 474-km Manali-Leh, to Ladakh remain closed in winter.
A senior BRO official said the snow clearance operation had been completed and the road would be thrown open for vehicular traffic in the first week of April. “The necessary repair work and widening of the road is being carried out and it may be completed in the next few days,” the official said.
Haji Anayat Ali said the snow clearance work had been completed, but the road was yet to be formally reopened for traffic because necessary maintenance work was still in progress.
“Kargil has been facing shortage of fresh vegetables, fruits and frozen meat. We were provided a quota of 75 tonnes fruits, vegetable and frozen meat against a quota of 375 tonnes in Leh district despite the fact that both the districts have the same number of inhabitants,” said Ali.