434-km long Srinagar-Leh highway to reopen tomorrow after winter

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Srinagar, Apr 14 (UNI) The 434-km long Srinagar-Leh National Highway will be put through tomorrow after remaining closed for the winter months due to five feet to 40 feet of snowfall , a senior BEACON official said.

However, the normal vehicular traffic would be allowed only from April 16, BEACON Chief Engineer A K Botaney told UNI this afternoon.

There was fresh one feet to two feet of snowfall on the Highway last week, Mr Botaney said.

However, he said, the snow was immediately cleared and repair work was undertaken on the Highway, linking Drass, the second coldest place in the world, Kargil and Leh with the rest of the country.

He said the road would be declared open tomorrow. But the traffic would be allowed only on April 15.

About the threat of shooting of stones and snow avalanches on the Highway, he said some of the areas were being properly maintained.

Mr Botaney said project BEACON had undertaken repair work of the road.

He added about 250 workers of BEACON were working round the clock to reopen the Highway, more than a month before schedules this time.

The highway remained closed for winter months from November every year due to heavy snowfall at Zojila, Captain Morh and Zero line.

''We have to remove six feet to 40 feet of snow which had accumulated on the road by pressing into service more than 20 snow cutters and other sophsticated machine from both sides of the Zojila,'' the Chief Engineer said, giving credit to his men for early reopening of the Highway.

He said at Captain Morh and adjacent areas there was more than 40 feet of snow on the road.

Mr Botaney also mentioned there was, however, no casualty or damage to the machinery during the snow clearance operation this year, despite snow avalanches and shooting of stones at some places.

He said the 80-km long Srinagar-Sonmarg highway was declared open last week after BEACON and the civil authorities put a joint effort.

This was for the first time that the road was reopened a month before the scheduled date. A large number of tourists visited the tourist resort of Sonmarg and the local population, including pony walls, who had left in November last year, returning there.

UNI BAS SBC BST1615

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