The Srinagar-Leh Highway, the only road connecting Kashmir Valley with Ladakh region, was thrown open to vehicular traffic on Saturday after remaining closed for about four months owing to heavy snowfall during winter.
The highway was thrown open to traffic by Lt Gen Satish Dua, General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps at Gumri, 110 km from the summer capital, who said the highway remained open for an extended period in the last season as there was less snow.
It was closed on December 29 last year.
The snow clearance operations by Border Roads Organisation on the road riddled with mighty avalanches of average height of snow accumulation of around 50 feet – commenced on February 24.
Although, the road was cleared by March 16, fresh snowfall later that month again rendered it un-motorable.
The strategic highway passes through the 11,516-feet high Zojila Pass which lies on the lower depressions of the Himalayan ranges.
Reiterating the strategic and economic importance of the highway, Lt Gen Dua said that having a throughout-the-year open road is very advantageous for the people and for the forces.
If a road is open, it is not that it is only for the people.
The stocking, which has to be done by the civilians of Ladakh for winter or even the forces, that will not be needed as the road will then remain open throughout the year, he said.
The army commander said the two tunnels to be constructed on the road would help keep the highway open throughout the year.
The work on 6.5-km-long Z-Morh Tunnel from Gagangir has started.
The contract for the other 14-km-long Zojila tunnel will be finalised soon.