The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened the mighty Zozila Pass on the Greater Himalayan Range on 16 March 2023. Zozila Pass is located on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh road (NH-1) at a height of 11,650 feet and provides a vital strategic link between Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region. This pass used to normally close by October/November every year and re-open only by April/May in the yesteryears with the total closure time averaging to almost five to six months.
With a renewed focus on infrastructure development and augmentation of connectivity to the Northern Borders in the recent years, there has been a strategic requirement of minimising the closure of Zozila Pass during winters. BRO accordingly ensured that the Zozila Pass was kept open for traffic till as late as 6 January 2023 this year. Almost 13,500 vehicles crossed the Pass between end November 2022 and 6 January 2023.
Despite a spell of severe winter which has witnessed the highest snowfall in the last five years, BRO rose to the challenge and initiated various measures to ensure early opening of the Zozila Pass. Finding a clear window of dry weather in the first week of February 2023, snow clearance teams were pushed into immediate action by Project Beacon and Project Vijayak from Sonamarg and Dras ends of Zozila. After sustained and relentless efforts, initial connectivity across Zozila Pass was established on 11 March 2023. Improvement and widening of road surface have been carried out since then to facilitate safe passage of vehicles. Trial convoy of vehicles have been successfully passed through the Zozila on 16 March 2023, thereby ensuring that the Pass remained closed for only 68 days this year as compared to 73 days last year and 160-180 days in the yesteryears.
Likewise, Razdan Pass which provides the only road connectivity between the Gureiz Sector and the Kashmir Valley has also been successfully reopened on 16 March 2023 after a gap of just 58 days. Other important passes at Sadhna, Pharkiyan Gali and Zamindar Gali have been kept open throughout this winter season.
Army in a press statement said, “Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, DGBR, commended the Karamyogis of Project Beacon and Project Vijayak in achieving this feat. Early opening of the Zozila and Razdan Passes will facilitate augmentation of supply of essential goods and services for people of Ladakh and Gureiz Valley.”
He reiterated BRO’s commitment towards nation building and service to the people. During the interaction, DGBR said that the trial movement of vehicles has been conducted successfully and the decision to open the road for civil traffic will be taken by the Civil Administration after the conduct of joint inspection. The press statement added, “The BRO has again risen to the challenge and lived to its ethos of ‘We Will Either Find a Way or Make One’.