After remaining closed for nearly five months, the strategic Srinagar-Leh national highway is likely to be thrown open for vehicular traffic within the next few days. Though the date for the reopening of the highway is yet to be officially announced, it is expected that it would be thrown open by May 12, depending upon the weather conditions.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is responsible for clearance of the road up to the Zero Point in Zojila from Sonamarg in Ganderbal district, has cleared the strategic highway. Officials said it was now up to the civil administration to decide on the dates for reopening of the road to Ladakh.
“Despite inclement weather, we have cleared the highway on May 2. It is now up to the civil administration to decide on the dates for reopening of the road,” said the Chief Engineer, Beacon, Brig RK Sharma. “A proper recee will be done on the highway by the civil authorities to ensure that the road is safe for the vehicular traffic,” he added.
The 434-km-long highway serves as lifeline for the Ladakh region and is an important link between the people of Ladakh and Kashmir. The strategic highway traverses through the Himalayas at the Zojila, situated at a height of about 11,575 ft.
While in the past, the highway was thrown open in the first week of April, this year things were quite different. This year there was a heavy snowfall in the area and it even snowed in the last week of April. Snow accumulation was six times more than the previous year. The toughest work for snow clearance was on the 30-km stretch from Gagangir near Sonamarg to the Zero Point, Zojila.
Sarmad Hafeez, Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, said he had written to the Traffic Department to check whether the highway was safe for the vehicular traffic. “I hope the traffic will be thrown open in the coming days,” Hafeez said.