Four important routes of Manali-Leh road were recently opened, which was one and a half months ahead of schedule. It usually opens in May or June after being blocked by snow for more than six months.
High mountain passes in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh have been free of snow and have been opened for vehicular traffic in summer this year, which will provide quick connectivity to remote areas of the state.
Four important routes of Manali-Leh road were recently opened, which was one and a half months ahead of schedule. It usually opens in May or June after being blocked by snow for more than six months. But this time, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) declared it open on March 28 after snow cleared at Barlachla (16,047 ft), Nakela (16,170 ft), Lachungla (16,616 ft) and Tangangalangala (17,582 ft).
However, due to snowfall in Barlachla last week the route has been closed again for a few days, with some people stuck on either side of the route.
Earlier this year, there were three factors. First, the Manali-Leh axis received unusually low snowfall this winter and therefore snow-clearing operations were easy. Secondly, the BRO was freed from the task of clearing the Rohtang Pass this time, as there is now the Atal Tunnel, which now bypasses Rohtang to connect Manali to Lahaul. Thirdly, the route had already been kept clear of snow up to Patseo, due to which snow cleaning work was done on a small scale, ”said a district official.
The Kunjum Pass (4,551 m) connecting the Lahaul and Spiti valleys, usually opened in May or June, has also been cleared of snow and is now open from the side of Kaza, but no access to it from the part of Gramphu can be done. The road is still blocked.
In another early reunion, the Chancel Pass, which connects the area of Dodra-Quar in Shimla district to Chirgaon and was blocked by snow in late November, has been cleared for traffic a few days earlier. “During winter, Dodra-Quar remains cut-off from the rest of the state. But with snowfall decreasing and better snow cutting machinery over the years, it has reopened soon.
Meanwhile, in Chamba district, SAC Pass at an altitude of about 4,400 meters above sea level is still closed. It was reopened in June last year, but snow is expected to clear earlier this year. Residents of the area said that snow has cleared up to Satundi and now only seven kilometers of the route is blocked. The Sach Pass connects the Pangi valley with the rest of Chamba.
Winter rainfall in Himachal was about 70 percent below normal this year, leading to failure of rabi crops and early drying of water sources.