New Delhi: The strategically located Rohtang Pass, linking Lahaul and Spiti valleys in Himachal Pradesh, was thrown open to traffic by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on Saturday, three weeks ahead of schedule, Army officials said.
The pass, located at an altitude of 13,500 ft on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, was opened for traffic primarily to facilitate transportation of essential supplies to the remote areas in the region, they said.
The mountain pass connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti valleys of Himachal Pradesh. The areas in and around Lahaul and Spiti valleys were facing shortage of essential commodities due to the ongoing nation-wide lockdown.
The snow clearance operation for the opening of Rohtang Pass is carried out every year as it remains snow-capped from mid November to mid May, isolating Lahaul and Spiti valley from rest of the country.
On April 11, the Himachal Pradesh approached the Border Roads Organisation to expedite the snow clearance to facilitate transportation of essential supplies to Lahaul Valley in wake of COVID-19.
"A convoy of vehicles carrying essential supplies and around 150 farmers went to Lahual valley on Saturday guided by BRO, marking opening of the Rohtang pass this year," the Army said in a statement.
"The news of Rohtang Pass being opened for traffic three weeks in advance as compared to previous year has brought relief amongst the local population. It will facilitate the central and state governments to bring much needed relief material and medical supplies for the local population," it said.
The BRO, which functions under administrative control of the Defence Ministry, maintains all strategic roads in the border areas across the country.
"The BRO inducted hi-tech machinery from both Manali and Khoksar side. Snow blizzards, freezing temperatures and frequent avalanches at Rahala Fall, Beas Nallah and Rani Nallah did delay the operations but the snow clearance teams kept on working relentlessly day and night with all COVID-19 precautions to provide relief to the residents of Lahaul valley," the Army said.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.