Zojila: The Zojila Pass on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway Thursday reopened within a record 68 days.
The 434-km highway that was closed on January 6 this year was thrown open on a trial basis by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
Director General (DG) BRO Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry flagged off the trial convoy from zero point Zojila.
The pass normally used to close by December end every year and open by mid April the next year with the average closure of the pass being 135 days.
However, this time around, the highway was kept open for the maximum period to ensure connectivity between Ladakh and Kashmir.
Located at an altitude of 11,650 feet, Zojila provides a vital link between Kashmir and Ladakh and is key to operational preparedness of the armed forces.
The renewed focus on infrastructure development of border areas mandated the requirement of keeping the Zojila Pass closed for the shortest possible time.
BRO’s projects Beacon and Vijayak recommenced the snow clearance operations on Zojila on February 10, 2023.
The connectivity across Zojila Pass was established on March 10 following which the road surface was improved for safe passage of vehicles.
As the Zojila Pass reopened and trial vehicles passed through it towards Srinagar and Kargil on Thursday, the development brought the much-needed relief to the people of Ladakh.
Speaking on the occasion, DG BRO Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry said, “It was due to the hard work of the BRO officials that we were able to throw the Zojila Pass open in a record 68 days. For the past three years, we have been breaking our own records. First the road was thrown open in 110 days, then in 78 days, and now in just 68 days. Our efforts are to make the road through in just 60 days.”
He said that the early opening of Zojila Pass would facilitate availability of essential goods and supplies for people of Ladakh and assist in the movement of troops.
The DG BRO said that the trial movement had been conducted successfully and the decision to open the road for civilian traffic would be taken after a joint inspection by the civil administration and Police.
He said now that the road was open, it would help transport defence equipment, weapons, and other logistics to the troops deployed in Ladakh.
“Fresh defence supplies including oil, fruit, and vegetables would also reach the troops in time,” the DG Beacon said. “The opening of the road will also help transport vegetables, fruits, and other items to Ladakh and give a fillip to its economic activities.”
He said that the late transport of supplies costs the GoI exchequer Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore, which would be saved this year due to early opening of the road.
Meanwhile, the officials said that there would not be routine traffic movement on the highway as the road was narrow and there were apprehensions of avalanches along the highway.
They said the administration after consultation with the BRO and Police would decide about the official opening of the road for traffic movement.
DySP Traffic Ganderbal, Mehraj-ud-Din Raina told Greater Kashmir that some vehicles from Kargil were allowed towards Srinagar.
He said that in view of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, fresh vegetables and fruits would be carried for Ladakh and any further movement of traffic would be ordered by the divisional administration.