The strategic 434-km long Srinagar-Leh national highway was re-opened for vehicular traffic on Sunday after remaining closed for nearly five months due to heavy snowfall in the area particularly Zojila Pass that connects the cold desert Ladakh region of the state with the rest of the country.
In a ceremony held at Zero Point (Zojila), the road was officially thrown open by General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Corps Lt Gen J S Dhillon by flagging off a convoy in presence of Chief Engineers of project Beacon and Vijayak of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) besides deputy commissioner Kargil, SP Kargil, ADC Ganderbal and officials of Beacon, civil and police.
Beacon officials said that the road was thrown open in a record time this year despite heavy accumulation of snow followed by several avalanches enroute.
The Borders Roads Organization (BRO) which maintains the highway passing through Zojila Pass (at an altitude of 11578 ft) had pressed men and machinery to clear tons of snow from the highway from early March this year .
On the occasion, chief guest Lt Gen J S Dhillon hailed the efforts of the BRO including project Vijayak and Beacon for opening the road.
He said that the snow clearance work on the highway is the most dangerous and challenging task being undertaken by the BRO personnel.
“The task requires the highest level of courage, skill, physical as well as mental strength” the GOC said.
He said that with the reopening of the road it will boost socio economic development and tourism sector here.
The Corps Commander saluted the dedication, hard work and commitment of differently abled lead dozer driver at Zojila, Anayatullah (fondly called Tulla). Working with Project Beacon since 1993, he has earned the reputation of being the epitome of excellence.
Gen Dhillon in his message to the youth, urged them to remain motivated, study hard, stay away from drugs and respect their teachers and parents.
Chief Engineer Beacon also complimented the Beacon personnel for their extreme efforts to clear the road.
“Braving the harsh weather conditions, the personnel involved in road opening had to face the dangers of avalanches, landslides and snow blindness” he said.
“The snow accumulation at Zojila was 35-40 ft this year and even between Drass and Zojila the average snow accumulation was 10-15 ft,” he added.
Meanwhile, several Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) and some vehicles carrying fresh vegetables and other eatables were allowed to move towards Kargil, marking the opening of the road.