Manali May 3, 2014: Hard pressed to open route to Lahaul, army road engineers have cleared the over 13,000 feet altitude Rohtang Pass of snow, enabling unlocking of Lahaul valley that was snowbound for six months.
Border Roads Organization, the agency assigned with the task of clearing the high passes of snow, yesterday announced opening of the road after having been snowbound for nearly six months.
Dr. Col Yogesh Nair Commanding officer BRO said “heavy machinery including bull-dozers and snow cutters were deployed from both sides of the pass and the breakthrough was achieved on yesterday night.”
Work on clearing the vital road of snow was started on March 3, 2013 and was completed before on the targeted date. Last year also the road was thrown open by April, 24, the he said.
He said normally they get 45 to 50 clear days to work but this time due to frequent snowfall we have got only 30 clear days. Efforts to beat the deadline were defeated by frequent snowfalls in between, which slowed down work, said Nair.
He added that the snowfall had been moderate in tribal areas this year and GREF engineers and labourers worked round the clock to clear the snow. To met the deadline of opening the Pass before the polling in four Lok Sabha seats in the state slated for May 7 next.
Last winter had record snow accumulate on the pass and at places; the snow sheet was as much as 40 to 50 feet thick.
Rohtang Pass provides the only link to the land locked tribal Lahaul valley. Valley residents have been anxiously waiting for opening of the road to Keylong and we will not stop anyone wanting to cross over, said a Commanding officer.
However, the Manali-Leh highway beyond Keylong is still snowbound and clearing operations at Baralacha Pass are targeted for completion by 15 May.
To provide an all weather road to Lahaul valley that remains inaccessible from 15thNovember to April, engineers are boring an 8 Km tunnel under the mountain range to connect Solang Nallah in Kullu-Manali valley with Sisu in Lahaul.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.