Sonamarg road reopens after 4 month, Leh still closed

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Srinagar, Mar 23 (UNI) The 80-km-long Srinagar-Sonamarg road reopened today after remaining closed during winter due to snowfall, while the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh National Highway remained closed.

The first vehicle left Srinagar for snow-bound Sonamarg, world famous for heli-skiing this morning.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, G N Bodha said the road was now through for traffic.

He said this was for the first time that snow on the road had been cleared and it has been put through for traffic in the month of March, well before the scheduled month of May.

The authorities doubled their effort to make the road to tourist resort traffic worthy, taking the advantage of good weather for the past one month.

There was less snowfall in the area, official sources said, adding the BEACON and Sonamarg development authorities worked round the clock to clear the road through in view of arrival of a large number of tourists from different parts of the country in the valley this month.

A number of vehicles, carrying tourists and locals, has left for Sonamarg. The entire hill tops in the area besides, both sides of the road, are still under several feet of snow.

Local residents, who had migrated from Sonamarg and its adjoining areas in the month of November for plains, started to return.

Normally, the locals return to their homes in May every year.

Ponywallas and other local traders said this will help them to restart their trade early.

However, the Leh National Highway remained closed since November 16 last year.

More than ten to 20 feet of snow accumulated at Zojila, Zero point and Gomri in the Sonamarg- Drass area of the Highway.

However, the BEACON authorities have pressed into service its sophisticated machines and workers to clear the snow, official sources said.

They said if the weather remained good, the Highway will be put opened next month.

People of Kargil and Drass, the second coldest place in the world, are demanding a tunnel at Zojila.

The Centre has already asked the state government to undertake survey of the area for a tunnel.

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