Manali: Given the strategic importance of providing year-round road connectivity to snowbound Leh and other regions of Ladhak, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has taken up the arduous task of keeping the high altitude Shinku La Pass (5091 meter, 16703 feet) open even during winter months.
Speaking to Hill Post chief engineer of Project Yojak Mr Jitendra Prasad VSM said, “after having analysed the importance of connecting Manali with Zanskar valley in Ladakh, men and machinery were mobilized to provide connectivity to this snowbound valley even in winter.”
Now, under the project, we are working at keeping the Shinku La Pass open for traffic throughout the year, said Prasad. Project Yojak is focused on keeping the Manali to Leh road via Padam operational round the year.
Other that opening the high pass for traffic, BRO in deep winter is also working on other important infrastructure projects in the area.
He said BRO is working for double laning of Nimu-Padam-Daracha roads in a fast track mode and it would be completed at the earliest.
On completion of Nimu-Padam-Daracha road, connectivity to Leh via Padam with rest of the country would be much strategic importance.
This road is one of the toughest road to traverse, often receiving heavy snowfalls of 15 to 20 feet at multiple stretches and the area is also avalanche prone.
Efforts are also underway to construct a tunnel underneath Shinku- La pass, which will allow easy traffic mobility even during peak winter months, said Prasad.
Shinku La mountain is the gateway to Zanskar and Ladakh from Manali. The 16703 feet high Shinku Pass closes becomes snowbound October and normally opens up in April.
Zanskar valley, accessible from Leh and Manali, becomes landlocked in winter as the high pass becomes snowbound and with temperatures dropping to – 30 to -40 Degree Celsius, it is very difficult to reach from Leh.
Keeping the pass open or constructing a tunnel access under Shinku La is the only alternate route possible to access this important valley in the north-western Himalayas.
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.