Strategically important Chumar sector of Ladakh gets an alternative road link from Leh

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The strategically important Chumar Sector in Eastern Ladakh has got an alternative road route connecting it to Leh, the largest town of Ladakh. The road passes through the world’s highest motorable pass.

The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday said, “Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed and black-topped the highest motorable 52 km-long tarmac road in the world at 19,300 ft at Umlingla Pass in Eastern Ladakh creating a record in high-altitude road construction.” 

The previous record was of the road in Bolivia connecting to its volcano Uturuncu at 18,953 ft. The significance can be of the road can be understood from the fact that it connects important towns in the Chumar sector which will be a boon to the local population as it offers an alternative direct route connecting Chisumle and Demchok from Leh.” 

The Eastern Ladakh is witness to a protracted standoff that began in May 2020 with around 60,000 troops stationed in the vicinity along with arms and equipment such as tanks, artillery guns, and mechanised vehicles. As the high altitude makes logistics a constraint in these areas, such roads will be of utmost assistance in maintaining the troop level.

The Chumar sector has been witness to tense situations and standoffs due to the differing perceptions regarding the position of the Line of Actual Control.  

The road will enhance the socio-economic condition and promote tourism in Ladakh, says the MoD.

The exercise of infrastructure development in such harsh and tough terrain is extremely challenging. During the winter, the temperature dips to -40 degrees, and the oxygen level at this altitude is almost 50% less than the normal places. “The BRO has achieved the feat due to the grit and resilience of its personnel who work in treacherous terrain and extreme weather conditions,” MoD said.

The altitude at which the road has been constructed surpasses some of the most difficult and high-altitude locations. The road has been constructed at an altitude higher than the Mt Everest Base Camps as the South Base Camp in Nepal is at an altitude of 17,598 ft, while North Base Camp in Tibet is at 16,900 ft. The road has been constructed much above the altitude of Siachen Glacier which is at 17,700 ft. The Khardung La Pass in Leh is at an altitude of 17,582 ft.