The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started the challenging task of maintaining and resurfacing of the Sonamarg-Leh road at Zojilla pass, the hilly and one of the highest motorable roads. The road remains closed for almost six months due to rough weather conditions.
Pertinently, Project beacon has started work on the Upper Alignment of Zojilla, comprising more than 6 kilometers by using concrete blocks.
“We have started work on the highest stretch at Zojilla by using interlocking technique of concrete blocks. Unlike in the past when snow and slides would damage the road and maintenance would last for few months, concrete blocks offer much resistance against weather and have a longer life,” BRO, Engineer Incharge Zojilla, Captian Niraj Kumar Singh, said.
Notably, the highway sees a daily rush of hundreds of heavy truckloads and passenger vehicles travelling to and from Ladakh region and the road stretch faces much pressure.
“In Phase-I, we are working on one kilometre of road in the Upper Alignment to make it much stronger and motorable for heavy traffic. One kilometre will take a month to complete. Then another part of the stretch will be taken up,” Singh added.
“On an average only 30 meters are completed by the workers daily. To ensure the blocks are laid without any loopholes and the blocks will last for a longer period, the workers have to tread cautiously,” he said.
The engineer said the area is prone to landslides, avalanches and freezing during winter.
“Because of these factors maintenance does not last long. From this year, we are introducing and using concrete blocking. It is best for such conditions. Blocks will not slide and move as we are fixing concrete on its both side of the borders. It will make it strong with a firm grip,” he said.
The Srinagar-Leh highway remains closed for half of the year due to snow and slides during winter, and restoring and repairing Zojilla pass becomes a challenging and daunting task for BRO.
A small portion of the Road was laid with rubber matting at the Captain Mohr on trail basis.
“This experiment did not yield best results which prompted the BRO to look for the other options,” said Niraj Kumar.