After clearing massive accumulation of snow, the strategic Zojila and Razdan passes in Ladakh and north Kashmir, respectively were on Thursday reopened early for vehicular traffic by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) providing road connectivity to Ladakh and Gurez valley along the Line of Control (LOC).
In the continuing saga of performing beyond expectations, the BRO added another feather in its already studded cap, by opening the mighty Zozila Pass on the Greater Himalayan Range on 16 March.
Zozila Pass is located on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh road (NH-1) at a height of 11,650 feet and provides a vital strategic link between Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region. This pass used to normally close by October-November every year and re-open only by April-May in the past with the total closure time averaging to almost five to six months.
With the renewed focus on infrastructure development and augmentation of connectivity to the Northern Borders in recent years, there has been a strategic requirement of minimising the closure of Zozila Pass during winters. BRO accordingly ensured that the Zozila Pass was kept open for traffic till as late as 6 January this year, thereby creating a new historic precedent of its kind.
The advantage which accrued by keeping Zozila open till this late can be assessed by the fact that almost 13,500 vehicles crossed the Pass between end November 2022 and 6 Jan 2023.
Despite a spell of severe winter which has witnessed the highest snowfall in the last five years, BRO rose to the challenge and initiated various measures to ensure early opening of the Zozila Pass. Finding a clear window of dry weather in the first week of February, snow clearance teams were pushed into immediate action by Project Beacon and Project Vijayak from Sonamarg and Dras ends of Zozila.
After sustained and relentless efforts, initial connectivity across Zozila Pass was established on 11 March. Improvement and widening of the road surface has been carried out since then to facilitate safe passage of vehicles.
Trial convoys of vehicles were successfully passed through the Zozila on Thursday, thereby ensuring that the Pass remained closed for only 68 days this year as compared to 73 days last year and 160-180 days in the yesteryears.
Likewise, Razdan Pass which provides the only road connectivity between the Gurez Sector and the Kashmir Valley has also been successfully reopened after a gap of just 58 days. Other important passes at Sadhna, Pharkiyan Gali and Zamindar Gali have been kept open throughout this winter season.
Speaking on the occasion, Lt General Rajeev Chaudhry, DGBR, commended the Karamyogis of Project Beacon and Project Vijayak in achieving this feat.
Early opening of the Zozila and Razdan Passes will facilitate augmentation of supply of essential goods and services for people of Ladakh and Gurez Valley.
He reiterated BRO’s commitment towards nation building and service to the people. During the interaction, DGBR said that the trial movement of vehicles has been conducted successfully today and the decision to open the road for civil traffic will be taken by the civil administration after the conduct of joint inspection. The BRO has again risen to the challenge and lived to its ethos of “We Will Either Find A Way or Make One”.