Srinagar, May 4: Avalanches triggered by melting of snow in Zojila area is hampering the re-opening of Srinagar-Leh highway despite clearance of snow by the Border Roads Organization, Chief Engineer Project Beacon of the BRO, Brig R K Sharma said here today.
“We completed snow clearance from Zojila on May 2, but due avalanches triggered by melting of snow at the higher reaches, it is not advisable to open the road for movement of traffic at this point of time. Every day dozens of avalanches trigger off on the road and if the traffic is allowed to ply at this point in time, it is not safe for the commuters, said Sharma while taking stock of the snow clearance operations at Zojila.
Brig Sharma said that no time limit should be given to the BRO for the re-opening of the road, as dozens of avalanche sites are still active on the 13 kilometre road stretch between Baltal and Zojila.
“Every day these avalanche-sites give a tough time to the snow clearance officials who put themselves at grave risk to clear the snow”, the Chief Engineer said adding that he understands that there are pressing problems of scarcity on other side of Zojila but safety commuters and drivers is a must.
“There is shortage of medicines, food, milk and vegetables, but at the same time we have to be very sensitive towards the safety of thousands of commuters travelling on the road”, said Sharma.
The Chief Engineer said that in normal circumstances the Highway is thrown open in the first week of April, when the snow fall stops in the month of February, giving ample time for the Beacon personnel to clear the snow. “However, this year things are quite different as it was snowing even in the last week of April and the snow accumulation is six times more than the previous years”, he added.
“The pace of snow clearance on Zojila road picked up from March 24. It took 37 days for BRO men to clear snow upto Gumri. Every passing day with the increase in temperature triggers massive snow avalanches”, Sharma said.
“Beacon men worked for 72 hours continuously without food and water at the Zojila Top as the two vehicles carrying food were trapped in the avalanches for two consecutive days on April 28 and 29” Brigadier said.
Regarding the number of the avalanche sites, Chief Engineer BRO said that there are about more than 20 active avalanche sites on the Baltal to Zojila track, with four to five measuring about 100 to 400 metres long and 40 to 60 feet high.
Sharma said that avalanches have created where road opening not possible at this point of time as there is threat to human lives. “How much time it needs to throw the road open cannot be anticipated at this point of time till proper assessment of the road is done. There should be no time frame and time put by force. We are making in our best possible efforts”, he added.