Avalanches delay opening of Srinagar-Zojila Highway

Srinagar: Beacon has snow from Srinagar-Sonamarg-Zojila highway but says due to avalanches it is not advisable to open the road for movement of traffic at this point of time, officials said Sunday.
“Every day dozens of avalanches trigger off on the road, and if the traffic is allowed to ply at this point in time, it will not be safe for the commuters,” said Brig R K Sharma, Chief Engineer Project Beacon, after taking stock of the snow clearance operations at Zojila.
Brig Sharma said that there should be no time limit put by force for the opening of the road, as dozens of avalanche sites are 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,” Sharma said and added that he understands that there are problems of scarcity on other side of Zojila, Leh and Ladakh region on counts of medicine, food, milk and vegetables.
“However, we have to be very sensitive towards the safety of thousands of commuters travelling on the road,” Sharma said.
He 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 (45 to 60 days) for the Beacon personnel to clear the snow. However, this year things were 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. The pace of snow clearance on the Zojila road picked up from March 14.
“It is with the fore planning by us and more equipments (three times than the last few years) which were pressed into service, that Beacon personnel could clear the snow from the road upto Gumri in flat 37 days. What is more astonishing that every passing day with the increase in the temperature, the snow in the higher reaches starts triggering down in the form of mass avalanches and there was no respite for the Beacon jawans,” Sharma said.
“We are putting in our best possible efforts,” he added.