The national highway, linking the Ladakh region with the Kashmir valley, remained closed for the fourth day today due to accumulation of snow, accompanied with slippery road conditions following below minus 10 to 15 degree Celsius minimum temperature and sub zero temperature during the day.
There are very less chances of improvement in the mercury in the region, particularly at Zojila, India Gate and Meenmarg on the 434-km-long highway due to which road becomes very slippery, official sources said, adding that the highway could be reopened only next year.
However, the decision to close the highway for winter months will be taken only by the government, keeping in view the safety of passengers and road condition, sources said.
All vehicles from the Valley are being stopped at Sonamarg while those coming from Ladakh region are not allowed to move beyond Kargil and Drass, the second coldest place in the world after Siberia.
The Centre and state government have already announced to construct a tunnel at Zojila to make it an all weather road, which is strategically important. In the past, the highway was being closed for six winter months from November Ist every year. However, for the past few years the highway remained open till weather permits.
Meanwhile, the authorities have stocked all essential commodities, including rice, sugar, atta, kerosene oil, LPG cylinders, diesel and petrol for six winter months. Large quantity of building material has also been dumped in the region to start the construction work when there is improvement in the weather even if the highway remained closed.