M A I N   N E W S

Five weeks after floods, Leh-Manali road opens 
Archit Watts writes from Upshi

September 15
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened the Leh-Manali highway, damaged in the August 6 flashfloods, to light vehicles yesterday.

The maximum damage on this highway was near Upshi, around 50 km away from Leh. A 20-km stretch of the highway between Upshi and Rumtse and another 6-km stretch between the Rumtse and Debring had been washed away. The Tribune team drove on the Upshi-Rumtse stretch and observed that ground clearance was low, causing difficulties to drivers. Seeing the condition of the stretch, the BRO has opened an alternate but longer route -- Upshi-Likche-Rani Bagh-Giak-Kiri-Chumathang-Mahe-Sando-Debring.

Travellers will have to drive 105 km more, increasing the length of the journey from 479 km to 584 km. The four-day journey would take five days. However, the BRO is not sure about the alternate route as the area falls in a landslide and sinking zone. Maintenance of the highway is also underway, as five temporary bridges have been made on it.

“The hard work of BRO jawans and massive machine deployment has resulted in the road being opened to light vehicles in just five weeks. But the highway will be opened to heavy vehicles only from next month, and that too for one way traffic,” said, Colonel (Works) VS Yadav of CE (P) Himank.

For speedy restoration of the highway, the BRO has already deployed 1,000 labourers and several bulldozers to work round-the-clock in three shifts. “We are optimistic that the road would be temporarily opened for trucks by the end of this month, provided weather does not play havoc. Total restoration, however, would not be completed before 2012,” said Col Yadav. 

Ladakh lifeline

This Leh-Manali highway is the lifeline of the Ladakh region. It is the only road for the Army to move supplies to its high altitude posts near the Line of Control in winter. Even relief and rehabilitation supplies for Leh flood victims were getting delayed because of the poor condition of this highway, which closes in October after fresh snow.





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