Manali-Leh highway status in 2018

Updated: April 05, 2018 by admin

Srinagar - Leh Road (2018): OPEN

Manali - Leh Road (2018): CLOSE

Manali - Rohtang Road (2018): OPEN

Manali-Leh road closed officially

January 30, 2018: Dauting 474-km-long Manali-Leh highway has been officially closed following several spells of snowfall and depositing of thick layer of ice on road surface. Border Roads Organization (BRO) will start clearing snow from the road from March 1 and the traffic movement on highway is expected to restart by end of May or first week of June.

Not only this highway offers breathtaking scenery and attracts thousands of tourists every year, it is also strategically very important for the nation. Though this year entire stretch of highway has received very less snowfall but some stretches at Rohtang pass and Baralacha pass are covered with 5 to 15ft of snow. Small avalanches have damaged road at some places. Even if BRO clears snow from the road, it will be impossible for vehicles to get traction on the road which is covered with frost under extreme cold conditions. The vehicles, these days, cannot move beyond Gulaba, 23km from Manali.

Himachal government had established two winter rescue posts at Marhi and Koksar which have now been removed. High passes, including Rohtang, Taglangla and Baralacha are frequently experiencing snowfall and BRO has also moved back and stopped its road works. BRO is working in lower portions, close to civilization, where temperature is favourable for cement works.

Manali-Leh highway is declared officially closed every year on October 15. After this, no government agency takes responsibility of accident or casualty. BRO stops clearing snow, except for internal roads of Lahaul valley.

Update on April 05, 2018

Rohtang pass opens for vehicular traffic

April 05, 2018: Border Roads Organization (BRO) today announced that it has cleared snow from 13,050ft high Rohtang pass, gateway to Lahaul-Spiti district and Ladakh, and it will allow general traffic movement from Friday.

The Manali-Keylong highway that passes through 13,050ft high Rohtang pass was blocked following heavy winter snowfall since December. BRO had launched snow clearance operation with four teams and each team equipped with 20 jawans, snow cutters, dozers and excavators and the teams advanced towards Rohtang from its both sides. As the region has received less snow than last few years, BRO could clear snow from Rohtang nearly three weeks in advance. Last year Rohtang was opened on April 28.

38 Border Road Task Force commander Colonel Arvind Kumar Awasthi said the machines moving towards Rohtang from Kullu and Lahaul sides had met at Rohtang pass in the afternoon on Thursday. “We have connected Keylong with Manali in record time, at least earlier than last 10 years. People of Lahaul can cross Rohtang by their vehicles on Friday. Our first goal to provide relief to tribals has been achieved. But precaution is needed to be taken while driving on this road,” he said.

Awasthi said fifth team is moving towards Baralacha pass with motive to connect Sarchu on Manali-Leh axis. “We expected to reach Baralacha pass by end of this month. This highway is strategically very important for our army besides being the lifeline for local residents. Now our focus is on improving surface condition on Manali-Keylong highway and restoring traffic on Manali-Leh highway by clearing snow till Sarchu as soon as possible.” He added that jawans had to face blizzards, extreme cold conditions, sliding snow and had to cut 10 to 15ft of snow and ice.

The population of Lahaul which remains trapped within valley after winter snowfall every year can now freely go anywhere in the country. Otherwise they were dependent on emergency helicopter services but its sorties were irregular and totally dependent on weather conditions. Currently the Manali-Keylong highway can be used by vehicles carrying residents of Lahaul and employees working in the valley. The pass is expected to open for tourist movement by end of the month after arrangement of adequate parking and installation of mobile toilets and dustbins.

Update on March 31, 2018

Rohtang pass to open in a week

March 31, 2018: Manali-Rohtang-Keylong highway, which is blocked since December after winter snowfall, is set to open in a week, almost a month in advance. The highway generally opens in April end or early May but this time it is expected to open on or before April 5.

While Border Roads Organization (BRO) jawans who had started clearing snow from Lahaul side are working close to Rohtang, the team from Manali side is working beyond Rahni nullah. Snow clearance operation that had started officially on March 12 is continuing on war footings. Clearing snow from Rahni nullah, which experiences many avalanches, was the main challenge before BRO. According to BRO officials, this time Rahni nullah had less than 10ft of snow, otherwise they used to cut 30 to 50ft walls of snow.

An official from BRO said the machines and jawans are working hard to clear road till Rohtang pass as soon as possible. “If everything goes right, we can reach Rohtang pass till April 5. Currently we are cutting through 7 to 8ft thick layer of snow,” he said.

A dozer clears snow from highway near Rohtang pass.

If weather remains dry and Rohtang does not receive more snow, the highway will be opened in a record time, about a month in advance. BRO will then concentrate on clearing snow from Keylong-Sarchu stretch towards Leh. Its main focus will remain on 16,050ft high Baralacha pass. As the region has received less snow this season, Manali-Leh highway is also expected to open for vehicular movement about a month in advance.

BRO’s 38 Border Roads Task Force commander Colonel AK Awasthi said their main purpose is to restore traffic on Manali-Keylong highway and provide relief to people of Lahaul-Spiti district as soon as possible. “Our jawans are working very hard. Our teams are moving towards Rohtang from both sides and one team is moving towards Baralacha pass as per strategy. Still everything depends on weather conditions. The passes may receive more snow that can affect our speed,” he said.

After clearing snow from Rohtang, vehicles of residents of Lahaul would be allowed. Tourist vehicles will be allowed only after making arrangement of parking, toilet and dustbins. Before this, tourists will be allowed till Beas nullah and Marhi.

Update on March 26, 2018

Srinagar-Leh highway opens

March 26, 2018: BRO today cleared snow from Zojila pass and 10 vehicles cross the pass during the opening ceremony. The road is expected to open officially for civilians in first week of April. Zojila receives very heavy snowfall during winter months and cuts off Ladakh from Srinagar. According to officials, surface condition of Srinagar-Leh highway is good and will be opened for general public very soon. The Kargil-Zanskar road has also been thrown open for vehicular movement after gap of more than four months.

Update on March 12, 2018

Snow clearance starts on Manali-Leh highway

March 12, 2018: With a puja organized at 11,000ft Beas Nullah, 33km from Manali, amid high walls of snow, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) on Monday started herculean task of clearing snow from daunting Manali-Leh highway. If weather remains favourable, Rohtang, Keylong and Leh would be connected in record time.

BRO’s 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) commander Colonel Arvind Kumar Awasthi, who visited the site to boost jawans’ morale, said the risky work of removing snow from highway has been started in three phases with help of five snow cutters, six excavators, eight dozers, other machinery and nearly 100 jawans. He said they are cutting through 10 to 15ft thick layer of snow and a puja was organized for the safety of jawans and machines.

We are expecting 20 to 30ft deep snow at Rohtang pass. Two teams, one from Manali side and one from Koksar in Lahaul are advancing towards Rohtang pass. Third team is advancing from Darcha towards 16,050ft high Baralacha pass. More snowfall may slow down our operation. Otherwise, we are committed to open the highway in record time,” he said.

A snow cutter removes snow from Manali-Leh highway

Possibility of avalanches, collapsing of snow, high velocity winds, bone chilling cold and shooting stones are the main threats before the jawans. So far the region has received less snow than last year. The commander said this will be too early to say the expected time to open road as the region receives heavy snow till April end.

The 38 BRTF of Project Deepak of BRO is responsible for maintenance of Manali-Leh highway till Sarchu, 222km from here. This is the most challenging portion of the highway. The Sarchu-Leh highway is maintained by Project Himank of BRO.

Awasthi said is first goal is to connect Rohtang and Keylong with Manali to provide relief to residents of Lahaul who have no road connectivity since December. BRO had already cleared snow in the lower areas and started operation in challenging portion from Monday. For safety reasons, the vehicular traffic is not being allowed beyond Gulaba, 23km from here.

Once the highway is opened, not only tourism will get boost on Manali-Ladakh road but military convoy will also move to the border areas from its transit camp at Manali. Though work has started at war footings, the commander directed jawans to consider safety first. The snow clearance work has claimed many lives in the past.

Meanwhile, BRO is working hard to clear snow from Srinagar-Leh highway. The jawans are engaged in clearing snow from Jozila pass between Sonmarg and Drass. The road here is covered under thick layer of snow. The Srinagar-Leh highway opens earlier than Manali-Leh highway.

Update on March 9, 2018

Unpredictable weather prevents BRO to start snow clearance on Manali-Leh highway

March 9, 2018: The unpredictable weather and snowfall on hills every third day is preventing Border Roads Organization (BRO) from starting its snow clearance operation on strategically important Manali-Leh highway which is officially closed since October 15.

BRO starts clearing snow from this road from March every year. The road is thrown open for vehicular traffic in end of May or early June. So far the mountain passes have received less snow than last few years. But, BRO officials say there are two more months of snowfall and it is too early to say that the passes have received less snow this season. They say jawans and machineries will be moved in few days to remove the snow.

BRO’s commander at 38 Border Roads Task Force Colonel AK Awasthi said he will make a detailed strategy with his engineers before carrying out the operation. “We are looking at weather. If we clear snow from a particular stretch and if it snows again, it will undo our efforts. The snow clearance in multi-stages will start in few days,” he said.

Awasthi added that their first goal will be to clear road till Rohtang pass. “We want to connect Keylong in Lahaul with Manali. This will provide road connectivity to thousands of people of Lahaul valley. Then we shall move towards Baralacha pass to connect with Sarchu on Manali-Leh axis. The work will start in multi stages from Manali and Lahaul sides.”

Avalanches at few places may have damaged the road but so far the damages are less than last few years. If everything remains favourable, Keylong will be connected with Manali in April and Leh will be connected in May. If the peaks receive heavy snow in March and April, the opening of the road till Keylong and Leh can be delayed to early May and late May respectively. The BRO is now waiting for crystal clear sky for a week ahead so that it can start the annual operation of clearing snow.

Two teams will move towards Rohtang from Manali (Gulaba) and Lahaul (Koksar) sides while third team will move from Darcha towards Baralacha pass. Once the road is opened, residents of Lahaul will get relief, tourism will get boost and military convoy will move to border areas of Ladakh.

Update on February 7, 2018

Manali-Leh highway may open in record time

February 7, 2018: Border Roads Organization (BRO) is all set to start snow clearing operation on strategically important Manali-Leh highway from March 1. The highway, which is covered with thin patches of snow, may open in record time.

Every year BRO clears snow from the highway from March. Generally highway till Rohtang and Keylong is opened in May and the highway till Rohtang is thrown open for traffic in May end or early June. It was in 1999, 2000 and 2001 when the region along highway had very less snow and Manali-Keylong highway was opened in April. Nearly 17 years after, this year may repeat the history and highway can be opened in April.

Rohtang pass, Baralacha pass and higher areas are covered with a thin layer of snow. Both the passes, which generally remain covered with 20 to 30ft of snow in February, have less than 5ft of snow. Amazingly, region has not witnessed any major avalanche and landslide and the road is not severely damaged. If hills do not get heavy snowfall, it will affect tourism and agriculture but will bring some relief to people of Lahaul in emergency by reconnecting them by road.

38 Border Road Task Force commander Colonel AK Awasthi said though higher areas are still covered with thin layer of snow but snowfall can occur anytime till April. “We cannot predict what will be the condition till March. Still we shall clear snow on war footings and try to resume traffic as soon as possible. We have noticed heavy snowfall in February and March many times. Only time will tell what will be the road conditions. If high walls of snow, ice, avalanches and blizzards will not stop our way, we shall clear snow well within time.”

As the temperature is not favourable, BRO has stopped its cement (concrete) works. According to Awasthi, once temperature becomes favourable, they will start several works simultaneously. BRO is concentrating on widening of the highway, building new bridges, retaining and breast walls and blacktopping. BRO will also construct the highway beyond Shinkula pass towards Zanskar valley of Ladakh. If snow continues to deceive mountains, Manali-Keylong highway is expected to open in April and Manali-Leh highway in early May. But, if it snows heavily in next two months, the opening of road can be delayed.

---Stay tuned to get fresh updates---

Disclaimer: The date of opening of Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh highway is not determined by anybody as it totally depends on weather conditions. Opening of these highways totally depends on intensity of snowfall in winter months, weather during clearing of snow, more snowfall in April and May months, temperature and many other aspects. Discover Leh Ladakh does not guarantee the accuracy of date of opening of the highway. This is just an estimation made as per inputs from BRO and sight visit by our own team members.

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