The Union Territory (UT) administration of Ladakh has urged the defense authorities to formulate a standard operating procedure (SOP) for early reopening the snow-covered Zojila and Rohtang passes to restore road connectivity of the cold desert region.

Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Umang Narula, in a meeting convened by the Defense Secretary to discuss the issues of the early opening of Zojila and Rohtang passes stressed the need to improve the connectivity of the newly created UT with the rest of the country.

Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways Sanjeev Ranjan, representatives of the Border Roads Organization, SASE, Chandigarh, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation, representatives of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Deputy Commissioner Kargil, Baseer-ul-Haq among others attended the meeting.

The meeting was held on the directions of the Lieutenant Governor, Ladakh RK Mathur.

The Ladakh administration strongly advocated the early opening of the Zojila pass to address the difficulties faced by the people of Ladakh due to the closure of roads during winter. The various issues discussed in the meeting included preparation of a detailed SOP for the opening and closure of the Srinagar- Leh National Highway to compress the window of road closure, action plan for opening of the Zojila pass involving all stakeholders, expediting the construction of the Zojila tunnel, procurement of additional machinery and equipment for snow clearance, construction of avalanche Galleries and snow sheds and using better technology for pre-icing and post-icing treatment.

During the meeting, the issues of expediting work on the Shinkun-la Padum-Nimmu road were also taken up for discussion. Currently, the construction work on this road is going on at a very slow pace. Since the Zanskar region remains cut off for about six months in a year, this road, if completed, could prove to be a lifeline for the Zanskar region especially with regard to the evacuation of patients and the supply of essential commodities. This will also be a big boost to the inflow of tourists in Zanskar as well as in Kargil.