Heavy snowfall set to delay opening of Manali-Leh highway

Posted: March 16, 2015 by admin

If you are planning to visit Ladakh by daunting Manali-Leh highway, its better to make necessary changes in your itinerary. According to confirmed reports, heavy snowfall and several avalanches along the Manali-Leh highway will delay opening of the highway for vehicular traffic. The road is expected to open on or afer first week of June, 2015. Both Rohtang pass and Baralacha pass are deep under 30 to 50 feet of snow.

Border Roads Organization (BRO) is all set to start its snow clearing operation on strategically important Manali-Leh highway, one of the highest and dangerous highways of the world, in next few days. The operation, which is already delayed due to inclement weather conditions, is expected to start next week.

Click Here to Check Manali-Leh Road Status of 2016

Heavy winter snowfall blocks Manali-Leh highway every year in November and BRO starts removing snow from highwayfrom Gulaba, near 23km north of Manal, every year on March 1. But conditions are quite different this year. Some of the parts along Manali-Leh highway have already received highest snow in last 36 years, while more snow is likely in next one and half month. Some parts along highway, particularly near Rohtang and Baralacha pass, have received over 40 feet of snow. Sources said that cutting through the thick sheet of snow is not easy this year and can delay opening of Manali-Leh highway.

BRO commander, Colonel KP Rajendera Kumar, who looks after operations of 38 Border Road Task Force (headquartered in Manali), shared with local media: "We have made a strategy. Bad weather conditions, heavy snowfall and avalanche warnings have forced us to delay the snow clearing operation. There is prediction for more snowfall and threat of avalanches. We are expecting to start clearing snow towards Rohtang pass in second or third week of May.”

Manali-Leh highway has completely disappeared below thick sheet of snow beyond Kothi, 12km from Manali. Clearing snow from road is not the only challenge but finding the exact trail on highway with nearly hundred hair pin bends without falling into any gorge is the main challenge. Cutting dozens of avalanches, escaping fresh avalanches, facing blizzards and working under temperature 20 degrees or more below freezing point are some of the major challenges before BRO.

Generally Manali-Leh road is thrown open for vehicular traffic in late April or early May, but this year opening of road may take little more time. BRO will first concentrate on Rohtang pass and then put all efforts on Baralacha pass. The fact that local administration of Lahaul-Spiti and Kullu used to establish rescue posts on either side of Rohtang pass to monitor movement of padestrians on March 15 every year have not established the posts due to heavy snowfall is enough to give hint about intensity of snowfall along Manali-Leh (Ladakh) this year. So, its better to plan your Manali-Leh jeep safari tours only after June 10 this year.

Update on opening of Manali-Leh Road (May 19, 2015): Border Roads Organization’s (BRO) 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF) has started removing snow from Manali-Leh highway on March 19, 2015. According to 38 BRTF commander Rohtang and Baralacha passes have received more snow than previous years and both men and machinery will have to work hard this year to meet the target of May end.

Four groups of organization started clearing snow from four places simultaneously to speed up the operation. Each group has four dozers and two rolba (snow cutter). Commander said: “We are expecting to open Rohtang for vehicular traffic by the end of May. The road is covered with 30 to 35 feet of snow. Several avalanches on the highway are another challenge that we will be dealing with.”

A group has started moving towards Rohtang from Gulaba, second group is moving from Stingri to Rohtang, third group from Stingri to Baralacha pass and fourth group is clearing snow from Udaipur towards Kilaar. BRO’s machinery started cutting 5 feet thick layer of snow from Gulaba, 21km from Manali, and thickness will continue to increase with increase in elevation.

BRO confirmed that highway to Rohtang has five major avalanche prone regions where jawans will have to put their all force and efforts. Avalanches at Rahla fall, Beas Nullah, Rahni nullah, 32-mor and near Rohtang top have resulted in accumulation of 60 to 90 feet of snow.

Click Here to Check Manali-Leh Road Status of 2016

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