SONAMARG – The Border Roads Organisation is concretising the Zojila tunnel section of the Srinagar-Leh national highway to streamline the movement of small and heavy vehicles and protect the strategic road from extreme weather events, a senior official has said.
“As the stretch is located at a very high altitude and faces extreme weather, the (concrete) blocks will provide friction and can withstand extreme weather in freezing cold and icy surface,” said Col Mukesh Bhanwala, Director, Works Project Beacon.
He said block laying is a fine replacement for black topping, which is not possible at such unfavourable spots.
Officials said nearly 3-km stretch of the upper alignment of the Zojila Pass has been completely paved with “interlocking concrete blocks” on which vehicles can move smoothly.
Col Bhanwala said the plan is to lay concrete blocks for about 6 km of the Pass.
“Pending work will be completed in upcoming season. Because of the heavy rush of transport due to stocking time, this season won’t allow much time to complete it,” he said.
Zojila Pass, at a height of 11,516 feet above the sea level, connects the picturesque Kashmir valley with the cold Indus Valley desert through the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh road.
As the road is vulnerable to landslides due to snowfall and rainfall, the interlocking of concrete blocks offer resistance against extreme weather and provides longer life.
The Srinagar-Leh NH remains closed for half of the year due to snowfall and landslides, and restoring and repairing the Zojila Pass is a daunting task for BRO. It sees a daily rush of hundreds of heavy truck loads and passenger vehicles moving in and out of the Ladakh region.
“Concrete blocking is best for such conditions. Blocks will not slide or move as they are fixed on all four sides for strong and firm grip,” he Col Bhanwala said. (PTI)