HomeIndian DefenceBRO connects Strategic Nimmu-Padam-Darcha Road in Ladakh, boosting connectivity and defense preparedness

BRO connects Strategic Nimmu-Padam-Darcha Road in Ladakh, boosting connectivity and defense preparedness

Source : The Print

BRO connects Strategic Nimmu-Padam-Darcha Road in Ladakh, boosting connectivity and defense preparedness

New Delhi: The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been able to cut through the rocky mountains of the Niraq gorge in sub-zero temperatures to establish connectivity by road, which will provide the shortest and all-weather axis to Ladakh after the Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh routes —  a fillip to India’s strategic connectivity to the borders with China.

The new road, which will make it easier for the military to ramp up its operational deployment in the shortest possible time when completed, will connect Manali to Leh through Darcha and Nimmu on the Kargil-Leh Highway.

Unlike the current Manali-Leh route which goes through five passes, the new road, being built at a cost of Rs 3,100 core, will have only one: Shinkun La at 16,558 ft. The Srinagar-Leh axis also has one pass: Zoji La.

One of the drawbacks of the Srinagar-Leh axis, despite having just one pass, is that it is susceptible to enemy interdiction.

The new connectivity was established after the BRO rushed in heavy equipment and men in January, taking advantage of the frozen Zanskar river.

The latest project has been 18 years in the making, sources in the BRO told ThePrint. While the initial 240 kilometres of the road was built in the first 10 years, it took roughly eight years to build the remaining 58 kilometres between Niraq and Chilling in Ladakh.

As part of a National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) project, the tunnel work is ongoing at Zoji La and will take 2-3 years to complete on the Srinagar-Leh axis. On the Manali-Leh axis, tunnel work is ongoing only at Rohtang La. Other passes on the Manali-Leh axis include Tanglang La, Lachulung La, Nakeel La and Baralacha La.

BRO connects Strategic Nimmu-Padam-Darcha Road in Ladakh, boosting connectivity and defense preparedness

In a press statement, BRO Director General Lt General Raghu Srinivasan said equipment and personnel were mobilised when Zanskar was frozen in January and the work of establishing the connectivity was completed.

He added that the work on black-topping the road would start soon. “With the construction of Shinkun La tunnel commencing, the third all-weather axis to Ladakh will be established,” he said.

According to a source, “The new axis will become the shortest and will work round the year, which is not the case with the other two axes. This will help in better preparedness for Indian troops stationed along the northern borders and also save time.”

The road has two stages of construction — one, to provide connectivity, which means cutting through mountains and creating a movable road; and the second, blacktopping. When the Nimmu-Padam-Darcha road is connected, it will be possible to travel through it from one end to another using only light vehicles because of the unpaved road. Blacktopping, however, will give the final touch to make it more robust. Sources said 240 kilometres of the 298-km road is already blacktopped.

The construction of the tunnel at Shinkun La is yet to start, though this does not make any difference to the pass being used, a source said. The tunnel will allow the pass to be an all-weather road, he added.

The press statement also said this new link will boost economic development in the Zanskar valley. There has been rapid construction in states along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by India to facilitate smooth movement of troops to forward areas.

India and China have engaged in a standoff along the LAC since June 2020. Several conversations at different military levels are held regularly and multiple key points along the LAC have already seen disengagement. However, friction points between the two countries remain in Demchok and the Depsang plains.

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