The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened the Leh-Manali Highway (NH3) for traffic, in a record time of 138 days, on Saturday.
The 427-km strategic Leh-Manali Highway (NH3) connects Ladakh to the rest of India via Manali.
The highway is strategic as it facilitates the movement of the armed forces and their supplies and wares to forward areas in the Ladakh region, bordering both China and Pakistan, as well as connecting Ladakh to the rest of India.
The highway is an alternate axis to the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Highway.
NH-1D, 422 km was opened by the BRO on March 16, 2023, and traffic has commenced on this axis. With the onset of winter and snow accumulation, the highway remains closed from November-end till it is opened to traffic by the BRO.
The entire snow clearance operations were executed by the BRO, under 'Project Himank' in Ladakh and 'Project Deepak' in Himachal Pradesh. The challenging snow-clearing operation commenced from two extremities and were carried out by two different teams, comprising skilled manpower and state-of-the-art machines.
'Project Deepak' was undertaken from Manali to Sarchu (Border of Ladakh and Himachal) and 'Project Himank' involved the clearing of the highway from Leh to Sarchu.
'Karmyogis' of both units worked in extremely challenging conditions, braving snow storms and high altitude areas, to clear the highway. They had to negotiate four important and high-altitude passes -- the Baralacha La (15910 ft), Nakee La (15547 ft), Lachung La (16616 ft) and Tanglang La (17482 ft).
A significant time of snow clearance was consumed in the clearance of these high mountain passes where the precipitation was more and the teams encountered snow walls of height 10-15 feet, stated a release on Saturday.
BRO, with a renewed focus on the early opening of all strategic roads and passes, has been progressively reducing the closure duration and opening the road earlier than the previous years.
In 2022 the road was opened for traffic move on March 26 and the BRO broke its own record in 2023 by reopening the road on Saturday.
As the two snow clearance teams converge to a common point, which is also the inter-project boundaries, a 'Golden Handshake' ceremony was organised at Sarchu on Saturday, in which the chief engineers of Project Himank, Brig Gaurav Karki, VSM and officiating chief engineer, 'Project Deepak', Col Vishal Guleria, cut the ribbon and declared the highway clear of snow and open.
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