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BRO begins opening of key pass to Leh ahead of schedule

Snow clearance team treks 20 km in sub-zero conditions

March 15, 2021 11:26 pm | Updated 11:26 pm IST - NEW DELHI

For the first time ever, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started work on reopening the crucial Baralacha Pass in Himachal Pradesh much before schedule to restore connectivity to Leh in Ladakh, an Army statement said.

Amid the stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh last year, the BRO had kept crucial passes open for longer duration to enable the Army to undertake advanced winter stocking for the thousands of additional troops deployed in Ladakh.

“The team has traversed a total distance of 20 km in super high-altitude conditions scrupulously crossing the Baralacha La in the Zanskar range on foot amidst sub-zero freezing conditions, frequent avalanches and slides with 15 to 20 feet snow accumulation,” the statement said.

Stating that the air recce for air induction of the snow clearance team from Sitingiri to Sarchu was carried out on March 3, the statement said the aim of this induction was to clear Baralacha Pass using two attack points from Patsio and Sarchu side each, thus clearing the pass in an early time frame and achieving connectivity to Leh.

However, air induction of the team could not take place in the subsequent days due to inclement weather conditions. To avoid further delay in inducting the team to Sarchu by air, it was decided to march the party on foot from Km 185 towards Sarchu Detachment, approximately 20 km, where the equipment is already stocked in mothballed state, it said.

The team, fully stocked with rations, spare parts and communication equipment, and comprising one JE and five personnel, marched on foot on the morning of March 11 but came back due to heavy snowfall en route. Another attempt on March 12 also did not work. The team found success in the third attempt the next day.

However, since it was getting dark, the team had to halt 7 km short of the Sarchu Detachment and spent the night in snow amid extremely low temperatures and snow blizzards and finally reached their destination on March 14, the statement added.

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