The strategic 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway was thrown open to traffic on Friday ahead of the normal time. The road was closed in winter due to the accumulation of snow at Zojila.
Lt Gen AK Bhatt, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 15 Corps, in the presence of Kargil Chief Executive Councillor Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan threw the road open by flagging off vehicles.
The GOC of the 8 Mountain Division, GOC of the 31 Sub-Area, Chief Engineer, Project Beacon, Chief Engineer, Project Vijayak, officers of the 14 and 15 Corps headquarters and other members of both projects and were present at the road-opening ceremony.
Zojila, which is 11,516 feet above sea level, was closed on December 11 last year. The snow-clearance operation was started on February 21 this year by Project Beacon and Project Vijayak. Men and machinery of the Border Roads Organisation were deployed to complete the herculean task in the shortest possible time, an Army spokesman here said.
“Although the major snow-clearance work is machine-oriented, the men behind the machines really matter a lot. Since the entire road is covered with heavy snow, the most difficult task is to identify the road alignment,” the spokesman said.
The frontier cold desert region of Ladakh comprising Leh and Kargil districts awaits the construction of a 14.2-km-long tunnel across Zojila that would make it an all-weather connecting link with the region. Its construction at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089.60 crore was approved by the Union Cabinet in January this year.
The much-awaited tunnel, to be the longest in Asia after the 9.2-km-long Nashri-Chenani tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, would be constructed in seven years after the construction begins this year. The tunnel between Baltal near Sonamarg in the Kashmir region and Minimarg in Kargil district of the Ladakh region would reduce the travel time for covering a difficult stretch of about 25 km from over three hours to 15 minutes. In addition to the two-lane bidirectional tunnel, a 6.5-km-long Z-Morh tunnel from Gagangir to Sonamarg is also part of the project.
Zojila on the Srinagar-Leh national highway, which is 11,516 feet above sea level, was closed on December 11 last year due to accumulation of snow
Men and machinery of the Border Roads Organisation were deployed to complete the task in the shortest possible time
The frontier cold desert region of Ladakh comprising Leh and Kargil districts awaits the construction of a 14.2-km-long tunnel across Zojila that would make it an all-weather connecting link with the region