Srinagar: The strategic Zojila pass on the Srinagar-Leh national highway, connecting the Kashmir valley with the Ladakh region, has remained open through December and January despite heavy snowfall due to the relentless efforts of the Border Roads Organisation, a defence spokesperson said on Thursday.
BRO ‘Karmyogis’, with their relentless effort under ‘Project Beacon’, facilitated connectivity to Ladakh region by ensuring that the Zojila pass remained open despite heavy snowfall, the official said.
Zojila, which falls on Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road, is located at an elevation of 11,643 feet and serves as the lifeline between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, the official said.
“Last year, Zojila Pass was kept open till January 3. This year once again due to the concerted efforts of Project Beacon, the Zojila Pass was kept open for the first time ever till January 6,” he said.
The spokesperson said the extended opening of Zojila pass was carried out by BRO for the first time in 2020 keeping in view the situation at the northern borders.
Since then, it has been continued in 2021 and 2022, the official said.
“Freezing temperatures of up to negative 20 degrees Celsius, insufficient oxygen, high winds and blizzards and frequent avalanches in this terrain did not deter the BRO karmyogis, who despite all odds, ensured unhindered movement of vehicles across Zojila Pass in the current winter season,” he added.
The spokesperson said more than 20 heavy duty plant equipments, including four state of the art snow cutters, were employed to keep the axis open.
The BRO has also completed successful trials of route guidance and navigation system technology for snow clearance to enhance efficiency and safety while performing such operations, the official said.
‘Project Beacon’ has ensured connectivity to strategic requirements of Indian Army and survival requirements of the local population of Ladakh, the spokesperson said.
The snowfall in last two-three days has resulted in slippery road conditions along Zojila Pass on the Srinagar Leh highway, causing disruption to traffic movement.
Detachments of ‘Project Beacon’ with pre-positioned equipments located at Gumri, Bajri Nallah, Baltal, Sonamarg and Gagangir played a key role in opening the pass despite inclement weather conditions, the official said.
“Day and night lost their relevance when six teams deployed at different locations worked 24×7 to keep the road open during extremely challenging conditions since the onset of winters in 2022. Approximately 13,500 vehicles crossed Zojila since November 25 while moving from Kashmir to Ladakh and vice versa,” the spokesperson said.
Despite closure of Zojila Pass, snow clearance operations by ‘Project Beacon’ will continue unabated in order to keep the Sonamarg Tourist Destination open throughout the winters as per requirements of Kashmir Division, he added.