Srinagar, Jan 5: In spite of heavy snowfall at Zojila, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under ‘Project Beacon’ has ensured opening of the pass to facilitate connectivity to the Ladakh region, the army said on Thursday.
On Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road, the Zojila Pass is located at an elevation of 11,643 feet and serves as the lifeline between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.
“Last year, the Zojila Pass was kept open till Jan 3. This year once again, due to the concerted efforts under Project Beacon, the Zojila Pass is kept open, for the first time ever, till January 6. The extended opening of Zojila Pass was carried out by BRO for the first time in 2020 keeping in view the situation on the northern borders, and since then it has been continued in 2021 and 2022,” the army said.
“Freezing temperatures of up to minus 20-degree Celsius, insufficient oxygen, high winds and blizzards and frequent avalanches in this terrain did not deter the BRO, which despite all odds, ensured unhindered movement of vehicles across the Zojila Pass in the current winter season,” it added.
More than 20 heavy-duty plant equipment, including four state-of-the-art snow cutters, were employed to keep the axis open.
The BRO has also completed successful trials of route guidance and navigation system technology for snow clearance equipment to enhance efficiency and safety while performing snow clearance operations.
“Project Beacon has ensured connectivity for the strategic requirements of the Indian Army and survival requirements of the local population of Ladakh. The snowfall in the last two-three days has resulted in slippery road conditions along the Zojila Pass on Srinagar-Leh highway, causing disruption to traffic movement,” the army said.
“Detachments of Project Beacon with prepositioned equipment located at Gumri, Bajri Nallah, Baltal, Sonamarg and Gagangir played a key role in opening of the pass in spite of inclement weather conditions. Six teams deployed at different locations worked 24×7 to keep the road open during extremely challenging conditions since the onset of winter,” it added.
The army also said that approximately 13,500 vehicles crossed Zojila since November 25, 2022, while moving from Kashmir to Ladakh and vice-versa.