JAMMU, June 6: Bhaderwah-Basohli highway is likely to reopen for smooth traffic by mid-June as the snow clearance work, which got delayed due to lockdown over COVID-19, has been resumed in full swing by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
Official sources told the “Excelsior” that the resumption of snow-clearance work coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions and the BRO personnel are working till late evening to ensure early restoration of the highway.
The official said that the machines have successfully cut through the snow and ice walls between Guldanda and Chhattargala located at a height of over 14,600 ft above the sea level, the most difficult stretch of the road where snow depth is over 15 to 20 feet.
“Jawans from Sarthal side in Bani (Kathua), will clear the road till Chhattargala within four days but it may take at least 6-7 days to the other BRO team to reach the pass from Bhaderwah side,” Parmod Kumar, a senior BRO official at Bhaderwah said.
Kumar further disclosed that BRO men were still cutting 10 to 15 feet deep snow and have reached nearly one km beyond Chattargala pass.
He disclosed that in December 2017, the Centre had cleared a proposal for construction of Chhattergala Tunnel to provide an alternate link, connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country.
The Jammu-Pathankot highway provides an all-weather link but it passes close to the International Border (IB) at some points, especially in Kathua and Samba districts. This 168-kms Basohli–Bhaderwah link is very vital as per defence point of view as it provides another connectivity to Kashmir and Ladakh.
“The weather has again turned inclement but our machines are working till late hours and jawans are also doing their best. Our focus is on connecting Bhaderwah with Bani in the next couple of days,” Commander of 35 Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) located in Doda said.
He further claimed that after completion of this task, the focus would be on clearing all the snow from nearly 15-20 kms stretch to make it fully motorable for both way traffic by June 15, he added.
Locals disclosed that many people crossed Chhattargala Pass on- foot to reach Bhaderwah from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh besides adjoining Kathua district during lockdown which came into force on March 24, 2020.
The District Administration Doda set up special check points to identify such travelers as part of efforts to prevent the spread of Corona virus. The travelers were subjected to COVID-19 testing and kept in administrative quarantine.
“Bhadarwah-Bani- Basohli- Pathankot road is the main stay of our economy and everyone gets benefited from this link directly or indirectly as a majority of our business transactions is with Punjab. We are hopeful that BRO will open this link without any further delay,” a local businessman from Bani MK Anand said.