Sonamarg road opens for LMVs, Leh highway may re-open next month

The 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking the Ladakh region with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to open in the first week of May. The highway was closed in December last year following heavy snowfall.

Officials of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) told Greater Kashmir that snow clearance work on the highway has been completed from both Sonamarg and Drass side.

Last year, the road was thrown open in April.

Project Beacon of the BRO is responsible for clearing the road up to zero point near Zojilla from Sonamarg, while the Vijayak of the BRO clears the road from the Kargil side.

“We have completed the snow clearance work upto zero point (Zojila) and now just the widening work is in progress, which will be done in a few days. Then the road conditions will be assessed before taking the decision to allow traffic on the road,” captain ShubhamSood of BRO told Greater Kashmir.

Beacon officials said that Zojilla Pass, which experiences heavy snowfall and remains shut for five months during winter, is considered to be the most difficult and avalanche-prone terrain.

Unlike previous years, snow clearance teams faced challenges right from the starting point, with slides as high as 50ft near Hung Park, Gagangeer, said Captain Kaushal Sharma, Second in Command 122 RCC.

Meanwhile, BRO officials of ‘Project Vijayak’ said that the road from Srinagar to Leh has been connected on either side after two-month-long snow clearance operation.

Meanwhile, the 10-km Gagangeer-Sonamarg road stretch, a part of the Srinagar-Leh highway, has been thrown open up to Sonamarg on Monday after remaining closed for four-and-a-half months. MasratHashim, SDM Kangan, told Greater Kashmir that the road is open for light motor vehicles and traffic will be under strict observation to avoid any inconvenience.

“The process of restoring water and electricity in Sonamarg is on and the departments concerned are on job,” he said.

For now, traffic on the Gagangeer-Sonamarg stretch is allowed from 11am to 3pm only. In case of bad weather, CEO Sonamarg Development Authority, SDM and SDPO Kangan will assess the situation and decide on opening or closing the road stretch.

SHEIKH NAZIR