The Khardung La or Khardung Pass in Ladakh until very recently was the world’s highest motorable road at nearly 17,600 ft.
This title, as of two days ago, was usurped by an 86 kilometre road constructed in the same region, going via Umlingta Top, by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). This trail is at the height of over 19,300 feet.
The motorable road in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir is between the Chisumle and Demchok villages, not very far from the Indo-China border and roughly 230 kilometres away from Leh, reported NDTV.
Chief engineer of this task called Project Himank, Brigadier D M Purvimath, said that building the road at such an altitude came with a multitude of risks, which isn’t hard to imagine.
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Starting with the bone-chilling climate, which is always adverse for construction activities.
During the peak of summer, the region’s temperature hovers between minus 10-20 degrees Celsius, and in winters, it drops to minus 40 degrees.
Not to forget, oxygen levels plummet to 50 percent of what is normal at that height.
The adverse climate and physically demanding work resulted in the temporary loss of vision and memory for workers and also caused blood pressure levels to shoot up.
“Efficiency of machines and the workforce decline by 50 percent due to the harsh climate and less oxygen level. Also, machine operators have to come down every 10 minutes for oxygen,” said M Purvimath.
Carrying equipment to that height, dealing with its breakdowns made handling logistics inconvenient too.
“Such a construction does not come without a cost, but given the national and strategic importance of the road, our men and machinery worked overnight to meet the targets set out by Director-General, Border Roads,” he said.
Cheers to the BRO for their tireless effort in the face of such adversity!