Leh highway will remain open till weather permits: BEACON

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Srinagar, Nov 11 (UNI) The 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway will remain open till the weather permits, BEACON chief engineer A K Bhutani said.

In view of the dry weather we have decided to keep the highway open, Mr Bhutani told UNI.

''There is a forecast about snowfall from November 12 to November 14 in the region and we are ready to meet the challenge,'' he said.

He said if there would be moderate snowfall, sophisticated machines will be immediately pressed into service to make it traffic worthy within hours. Incase of heavy snowfall we will have to reconsider the decision for keeping the highway open, he said.

Mr Bhutani said it was earlier decided to close the highway from November 1 for winter months.

But in view of the dry weather, it was decided to allow the traffic movement till the journey is safe.

This year the highway was reopened about a month earlier despite late snowfall in March, he said.

About the proposed tunnel at Zojila to make it all weather road, he said feasibility work for the tunnel will be taken up only in next summer.

Mr Bhutani said feasibility was necessary to start work on any project.

He said once the tunnel is constructed, traffic on the highway, which remains closed during winter because of 15 to 25 feet of snowfall, will ply throughout the year.

Meanwhile, the authorities have stored all essential commodities, including rice, atta, kerosene oil, medicine and gas cylinders at Kargil, Drass, Leh, Nobra and other far flung areas in the Ladakh region which remains cut off during winter months due to snowfall.

Four assembly segments of Kargil, Zanaskar, Nobra and Leh are going to polls in the first phase of seven-stage election in the Jammu and Kashmir on November 17.

UNI BAS NY KN1432

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