Cutting through the 20 to 50 feet thick blanket of snow, Border Roads Organization, a wing of Indian Army, has restored the 474-km-long strategically important Manali-Leh highway after eight months on Wednesday (June 1).
Though the traffic on the highway had came to halt following a heavy snowfall on November 28 but it was officially closed for vehicular movement on October 15. Having received record snowfall in past 20 years, Baralacha-la (16,500ft) and Rohtang pass (13,050ft) had engulfed the major part of the highway. Both the pass being main barriers on highway, border roads organization had started the most crucial work to remove the snow making three detachments and each having five dozers and snow cutter machines in first week of March. Around half dozen vehicles from Manali crossed the Rohtang and Baralacha-la on Wednesday. Officially the highway will be announced safe for traffic on June 4.“Mountains have given up before the courage of our men and machines,” organization commander AK Dixit said, adding, “This was a great experience for our teams. Heaps of snows were sky high and we had no idea that in which direction we should move to find highway. Not caring about frostbite and hypothermia, our men kept moving ahead facing all difficulties with head-up and succeeded in finding the way. We have learnt a lot this year.”
Dixit said the green signal to military vehicles, tankers and other vehicles will be given on June 6. “Military would be able to use the highway after June 6. A special strategy has been made to deal with the traffic problems on highway,” he said. According to organization, Baralacha-la has 20 to 25 feet of snow this time.
38 border roads task force, a Manali based wing of BRO is responsible for maintenance of 222-km-long Manali-Sarchu highway which is widely known as project Deepak. Highway between Sarchu and Leh which comes under supervision of project Himank was already cleared for traffic. The highway is famous for jeep safaris.