Snow-clearing work begins on Manali-Leh highway

March 3rd, 2009 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, March 3 (IANS) Erratic snowfall and rising temperatures have enabled the beginning of snow-clearing operations on part of the 475 km-long Manali-Leh National Highway 21 two months before usual, officials in Himachal Pradesh said Tuesday.
“Due to the dry spell in the past few weeks, we have decided to start the snow-clearing operation on the crucial Manali-Leh highway,” S.K. Doon, commander of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) 38 Task Force, told IANS.

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

Doon said efforts were being made to open the 13,050 feet high Rohtang Pass, the gateway to the tribal Lahaul and Spiti district, by mid-April.

“If the weather remains dry, the Rohtang Pass will be cleared of snow by the second week of April,” he said. It is usually cleared only in June.

Doon said three teams were deployed on the 222 km-long 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 20 km stretch from Manali to the Rohtang Pass has been made motorable,” he added.

The Manali-Leh highway is in the rugged terrain of the trans-Himalayas.

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