The 3,528-metre high Himalayan Zojila Pass, which connects Kashmir with Ladakh, was on Thursday opened 68 days after it was closed in January. In 2021, the pass was opened after a 110-day closure. Zojila Pass remained closed for 73 days in 2022.
“We were able to open the pass in a record 68 days. For the past three years, we have been breaking our own records,” said Border Roads Organisation (BRO) director general Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhary.
The pass would normally be closed by October or November annually and reopened in April or May.
Public relations officer (defence) Lt Col Emron Musavi said there has been a strategic requirement of minimising the closure during winter with a renewed focus on infrastructure and augmentation of connectivity to the northern borders.
He said BRO accordingly ensured the pass was kept open for traffic till as late as January 6, creating a new record. “The advantage accrued by keeping the pass open till this late can be assessed by the fact that almost 13,500 vehicles crossed it between the end of November 2022 and January 6, 2023,” Musavi said.
He said BRO rose to the challenge and initiated measures to ensure the opening despite the highest snowfall in the last five years.
He added dry weather in the first week of February accelerated snow clearance and widening of the road surface was carried out. “Trial convoys of vehicles successfully passed through Zojila on March 16… thereby ensuring it remained closed for only 68 days.”
Musavi said Razdan Pass, which provides the only road connectivity between Gurez and Kashmir, was reopened after 58 days. “Other important passes at Sadhna, Pharkiyan Gali, and Zamindar Gali have been kept open throughout this winter.”
Chaudhary said the early opening of Zojila and Razdan Passes will facilitate the augmentation of the supply of essential goods and services for the people of Ladakh and Gurez Valley.
“The trial movement [across Zojila] has been conducted successfully and the decision to open the road for civil traffic will be taken by the civil administration,” Chaudhary said.