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New Delhi, April 26, 2020
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened the 13,550-feet high Rohtang Pass on Saturday, more than three weeks in advance amid the COVID-19 lockdown after clearing the accumulated snow.
It is the arterial road connecting Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh with the rest of the country. The pass was opened on May 18, last year.
The Himachal Pradesh Government had approached BRO to expedite the snow clearance to facilitate the return of farmers for starting cultivation and movement of essential supplies and to bring relief materials to Lahaul Valley in the wake of COVID-19, an official press release said.
BRO inducted hi-tech machinery from both Manali and Khoksar side. Snow blizzards, freezing temperatures and frequent triggering of 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 first convoy of vehicles carrying essential supplies and approximately 150 farmers moved to Lahaul Valley, guided by BRO thus officially opening the Rohtang pass this year, the release said.
The news of Rohtang Pass being opened for traffic three weeks in advance as compared to the 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. Also, the agriculture activities which are the backbone of the district can now recommence, it said.
Snow clearance operation for the opening of the pass is carried out every year as the pass remains snowbound for almost six months from mid-November to mid-May. It was kept open till December 12, 2019. The valley remains dependent on air maintenance for any external logistics/supplies during winters.