Rohtang Pass to reopen in April

March 18th, 2009 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Manali (Himachal Pradesh), March 18 (IANS) For the first time in 20 years, the majestic Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 13,050 feet in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district, will be reopened in the first week of April, officials said here Wednesday. It is usually opened to traffic in May.
“The crucial road link to the tribal Lahaul valley through the Rohtang Pass will be reopened in the first week of April,” I.R. Mathur, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) chief engineer (Project Deepak), told IANS.

“This is the first time in 20 years that the pass would be made motorable in April. Due to the dry spell in the past few weeks, we have accelerated the snow-clearing operation,” he added.

Regarding the complete opening of the 475 km Manali-Leh National Highway 21, Mathur said the work of clearing snow was going on at a fast pace at different locations.

“Our first priority is to make the 60 km stretch between Manali and Rohtang Pass motorable so that link to the Lahaul valley would open before the general elections,” he said.

The hill state will go to the polls May 13.

S.K. Doon, commander of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), 38 Task Force, said three teams were deployed on the 222 km Manali-Sarchu stretch to clear the snow.

“While one team is working between Manali and Rohtang Pass, two teams are between Stingri and the Rohtang Pass, and Stingri and Baralacha Pass,” he said.

The GREF is a wing of the BRO. It maintains the part of the highway that is in Himachal Pradesh. The rest is in Jammu and Kashmir.

Doon said the Manali-Leh road was also likely to be thrown open for traffic by the middle of May. The highway is in the rugged terrain of the trans-Himalayas.

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