Shimla, Oct 12 (IANS) Two crucial bridges on the strategic 475-km Manali-Leh highway were among the 44 bridges inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to facilitate movement of armed forces and logistics in forward areas of Union Territory of Ladakh, officials said.
The new bridges in Himachal Pradesh are the 360-metre-long Darcha-Barsi steel truss bridge in Darcha in Lahaul-Spiti district and the 110-metre-long Palchan bridge near Manali in Kullu district.
The Darcha bridge across the Bhaga river is the second longest in the country, constructed at a cost of Rs 27.25 crore, officials said.
Besides improving the flow of traffic, the new bridge, would prove helpful increasing load carrying ability, an official statement said.
Darcha is located some 33 km ahead of Keylong, the district headquarters, at a height of 11,020 ft, the last permanent settlement in the state.
From Darcha, one road bifurcates towards Shinku La (pass), the shortest route that traverses to the remote Zanskar region towards Padum, some 30 km from Leh, and another towards the windy Manali-Leh highway.
The 297-km-long Darcha-Nimmu-Padum road has been identified as the third strategic alternative to Ladakh in wake of the threat from Pakistan and China. The double-laned road is under construction and likely to be completed by 2023, officials said.
The BRO is also studying the feasibility of constructing a tunnel beneath the 13.5-km-long snow avalanche-prone Shinku La like the Atal Tunnel near Manali to avoid the majestic pass.
“The tunnel beneath Shinku La will further drastically reduce the distance between Manali and Leh,” an official told IANS.
The Palchan bridge, constructed on the Beas river, has cost Rs 12.83 crore.
The 44 major bridges dedicated to the nation virtually constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in a record time in seven border states and Union Territories in western, northern and north-eastern India.
Singh also laid the foundation of important Nechiphu tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh.
The project has been accomplished by 70 Road Construction Company of the BRO.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur joined the event virtually to inaugurate them from his official residence.