Notwithstanding COVID-19 risk, BRO restores Razdan, Zojila passes ahead of schedule
The Border Roads Organisation opened the Zojila and Razdan passes on the Srinagar-Leh and Bandipora-Gurez highways, respectively for traffic this year, ahead of schedule, despite the risk of COVID-19 prevailing over the world, officials said.
The 86 km-long Bandipora-Gurez road was thrown open for traffic after remaining closed for four months due to heavy snowfall at Razdan pass, which is at 11,560 feet above sea level, on April 17, over a month before it was done in previous years, they said.
Similarly, the Srinagar-Zojila-Leh road was restored after four months of closure and opened in March, whereas it was reopened by April-end last year, the BRO officials said.
Despite heavy snowfall over these passes last year, the officials said snow clearance operations were undertaken by Project Beacon of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) from Gagangir to Zero Point.
The same was done by Project Vijayak from Drass towards Zero Point to resume traffic to Leh, earlier than scheduled.
Chief Engineer, Project Beacon, Brigadier Ravi Navet said the BRO carried out the snow clearance operation on these high passes with highest degree of synchronisation and synergy of various snow-clearing equipment in the Valley.
“Our snow clearance teams started the clearance operations one month in advance. They went through a harsh environment, including biting cold, bone chilling winds and above all the avalanches which were major threats to the lives of the jawans in these high altitude passes,” Navet said.
“Our jawans had a narrow escape at occasions while these avalanches struck on Zojilla pass, but even that did not deter their determination,” he said.
“The intent was to provide early and smooth passage and ferry essential goods to the people living in Ladakh and Gurez valley,” the official said.
Brigadier Navet said the BRO teams downplayed all the risks on the ground and went ahead with its mission of opening these Himalayan passes as early as possible despite the coronavirus threat and the lockdown observed in the country.
He noted that the snow accumulation in these sectors is recorded at over 35 feet in many places and has an average height of 15 to 25 feet.
For the first time, the BRO pressed into service high tech snow cutters in the snow clearance operation at Srinagar Airport, which has enhanced our working efficiency, they said.
The chief engineer of Project Beacon said, “We cannot keep these road open throughout the winters, but we can minimise the period of road closures on these two highways through strategy, determination and modern technology.
“Both these highways are considered as lifelines of Ladakh and Gurez Valley,” he said.
“All the essential goods are ferried through these highways, providing much needed relief to the land-locked regions,” Brigadier Navet added. PTI