Manali-Leh highway sinking
Apr 22, 2007 - 8:09:25 AM

Manali -, April 22 - A high and vital mountain road linking the landlocked valleys of Lahaul and Ladakh in Himachal Pradesh with Jammu and Kashmir is dangerously sinking.

The damage to the road, detected recently, is growing and it could soon become hard for vehicular traffic to pass on this narrow, winding stretch of the Manali-Leh highway, officials say.

The troubled spot, about 1.5 km long, is located at Gulaba, 23 km from the resort town of Manali.

The 480-km highway is a summer route popular with adventure travellers and the tribals of Lahaul, besides the Indian Army, which uses it to transport soldiers and supplies to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

The road is barely open for five months in a year due to heavy snow, according to the Border Roads Organisation -, which looks after this strategic road.

Even as traffic continues to ply dangerously on this stretch, there is growing concern over the plying of heavy vehicles on this busy route.

The spot is about midway between Manali and the 13,050 feet high Rohtang pass. Once the snow covered pass opens for traffic, it draws a large number of tourists from Manali.

Engineers of BRO say the sinking stretch cannot be repaired as melting snow is causing water to seep under the road.

BRO engineers say they are not in a position to stop this seepage and will have to build a three-kilometre diversion road instead.

'We will have to build a bypass that can only be carved out hopefully by next summer at a cost of Rs.18 million,' K.P. Singh, a senior BRO official, was quoted as saying.

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