Manali: Starting out early, Border Roads Organisation starting snow cutting operations from Beas Nallah (33 Kms from here0 on the Manali-Rohtang-Keylong road and set out a stiff target to open the snowbound pass before March 31. By April end the target it to open the road to Leh in Ladhak.
The entire road which normally is thrown open for public transport by end of May or early June is for the first time likely to made operational by end of April itself.
It’s for the first time in history of Manali valley that snow clearance has begun from Beas Nullah, higher up on the road to the pass and not from Gulaba (23 Km from here). The mountain passes have received very less snow this year and only the higher altitude wears a thicker snow cover this season.
Last year BRO had started snow clearance operations for Rohtang Pass on March 19. The army road engineers claim that the road till Rohtang will be cleared over the next few days. The snow clearing job was officially started after prayers and a puja on Tuesday (1.3.2016). BRO performed the puja for seeking divine grace for ensuring a smooth operation and safety of their men and machinery.
According to 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) commander Colonel KP Rajendra Kumar, the organisation is trying to open the highway for traffic movement as soon as possible.
“One team will move from Beas Nullah towards Rohtang, a second team is approaching the pass from Koksar side and third team is removing snow from Jispa towards Baralacha pass. All the teams have dozers, snow cutters and enough manpower,” said Col Kumar.
The highest snow deposit that has been cut so far is about 15 feet high wall of snow at Beas Nullah. Next challenge will be to cut the through the Rahni Nullah thick snow deposit on north face of Rohtang.
“We shall try to connect Keylong with Manali till March 31 subject weather conditions. Then we shall concentrate on opening of Manali-Leh highway till Sarchu, 222 Km from Manali. Meanwhile, our machinery is engaged in formation cutting to widen the highway,” said Col Kumar.
It will be for the first time that Keylong and Leh are connected with Manali in March and April respectively.
Despite less snowfall recorded from November to January, army jawans involved in road clearing operations are working under extreme cold conditions. The day temperature is minus 10 degree Celsius, and high velocity winds blow make the working environment very challenging.
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.