Brig Amit Singh Sohal, CE

In the aftermath of the “Kargil War” (OP VIJAY) in 1999, a need was felt to develop an effective road infrastructure network to meet the strategic needs of the country and to enhance the speed of growth and development of the Ladakh region. One of the important lessons learnt during the Kargil War was to improve the operational readiness of Indian Armed Forces and to ensure their quick deployment close to Line of Control (LC) to prevent such unfortunate situations in future. With this aim in mind, the Government of India decided to set up a new Project of BRO exclusively to undertake the road construction and development activities in western Ladakh region including Zanskar valley. Accordingly, Project Vijayak was raised with its Headquarters at Kargil and commenced its functioning wef 21 Sep 2010. The complete road sector of this Project lies in High Altitude Area (HAA) where altitude varies from 9500 ft to 13500 ft above MSL and the entire area experiences heavy snowfall and sub- zero temperatures for prolonged periods. The widening/improvement of road Zozila - Kargil - Leh (322 Km) to Double Lane Specifications and construction of road Nimmu - Padam - Darcha (258 Km) connecting Ladakh region of J&K with Himachal Pradesh are major tasks entrusted to the Project. At present, work on these roads are progressing in full swing. In addition, construction & improvement work on Wangla - Fangila - Sumdho - Photoksar -Yelchung - Niraq (26.8 Km) (An alternate route to Nimmu - Padam - Darcha) to Cl-9 (E) specifications and road Sanku - Kunnore - Sapila - Mulbek (56.15 Km) to NHIW specifications are also under progress. An additional task of improvement of road stretches between Zozila and Leh for induction of heavy military equipment was also entrusted to Project Vijayak and same completed satisfactorily.

(a) Road Zozila – Kargil – Leh (NH-1): Road Zozila - Kargil - Leh (322 Km), the life line of this  region connecting Kashmir Valley to Ladakh region  is being improved to NH Double Lane specifications. This has resulted not only drastic reduction of travelling time between Zozila and Leh but also made the travel more comfortable and pleasant. This road has significant strategic value and is also very important for civil administration as it is the main life line of communication for provision of logistic support to troops and civil population. The road runs along the bank of Rivers Drass, Suru and Indus. Considering the extreme climatic and adverse terrain conditions in the area, the road is maintained properly by this Project. The road stretch in between Drass to Leh (283 km) is kept open throughout the year even by carrying out this task of winter Snow clearance.


(b) Road Nimmu – Padam – Darcha: To ensure all weather connectivity to Leh which remains cut off from rest of the country during winter season for almost six months , an alternate route from Himachal Pradesh ie. Manal i- Darcha - Padam - Nimmu via Shinkhunla Pass is being developed. This road is approximately 259 Km in length between Nimmu and Shinkhunla. The road has been developed for 105.30 Km to Cl-9 specifications. Due to very poor connectivity to Padam, located at an altitude of 12,200 ft above MSL and prevalence of very steep and vertical hard rock strata, construction of this road has become a challenging task for the Project. The road will be fully operational by year 2021 to single lane. Meanwhile the works on NHDL specification is also under progress. An alternate alignment is also being under taken to improve connectivity and hasten the pace of works within next 4-5 years. Development of this road will provide an additional route to Leh and thus play a vital role in development and growth of this remote and land locked region of the country.


(c) LTPP-I & II Roads: Construction of three roads under LTPP-I and 25 roads under LTPP-II under the GS Roads category have been entrusted with PDsC varying from 2014 to 2022. Three roads under LTPP-I of 49 Km length, two roads under LTPP-II of 80 Km length and two roads of 128 Km length under GS Roads other than LTPP are presently under construction.

(d) Snow Clearance of Zojila: Summer Snow clearance operation of Zojila is one of the most challenging tasks being undertaken by Project Vijayak every year. Apart from extreme cold climate, the troops involved in the task have to face danger of avalanches, landslides, snow blindness, frost bites and chill blains etc. The work requires highest level of physical fitness, mental robustness, courage and skill. The snow accumulation at Zojila is about 40-60 feet. With meticulous planning, comprehensive deployment and management of resources the stretch of road from Drass to Gumri across Zojila on NH-1 is always opened timely. Zojila was opened for all types of traffic on 25 Apr 2012 06 April 2013 and 28 April 2014 respectively during the last three years. 

(e) All Weather Operations at Kargil Air Field: The Project also undertakes continuous and regular maintenance and snow clearance operations to ensure Kargil Air Field remains functional for air operations by Air Force throughout the year in all weather conditions. It is an extremely important facility available to troops and civilian population of Kargil and nearby areas.