Todays news talk of snow over Rothang , Baralacha , Lachulung and Tanglang La , and quotes the District Commisioner in Spiti , C. Paul Rasu :
“As a precautionary measure, we have decided to close the traffic on the National Highway 21 from Nov 15 onwards”.
Srinagar-Leh : closed (?)
Yesterdays news talk of the Srinagar-Leh road being cleared of two feet of snow near Sonamarg and three feet of snow around the Zoji La , and no snow beyond (i.e. nearer to Leh) that.
Tribune quotes the chief engineer on the Beacon project as being very specific on the issue :
““We pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the snow and allow normal traffic from the both sides”
“We had decided to close the highway from November 1 to avoid any tragedy on the highway,” he said, adding later the traffic movement was allowed keeping in view the dry weather.
“The road will be closed the moment we think that journey is risky.”
The decision to keep the road open may also have been influenced by the public criticism the announcement of the upcoming Otober 31st closure received , The Tribune called it the “anti-thesis of the meaning of a highway” and the district commisioner went on record saying that closure could not be pre-announced , only be the result of the facts on the ground.
The actual practice is far from these anonouncements , the same story quoted an official in Kargil saying :
““If there is not much snow, then drivers ply their vehicles even in December, as was the case last year”.
UPDATE : Daily Excelsior carries a story of four hundred voters stranded in Sonmarg along the the Srinagar-Leh Highway , unable to reach the polling station in Kargil .