Snowfall in the upper reaches of the Himalayan state of Sikkim, which sits on the India-China border, over the past couple of weeks has prompted the Indian Army and the Border Roads Organisation to clear roads.
Every year, Sikkim sees heavy snowfall in winter, but this year, the pattern of snowfall “has been peculiar”, said an army source.
“Sikkim saw late but concentrated snowfall this year. The sappers (of the army, along with BRO personnel) are continuously working to ensure that roads and communication lines remain clear,” the source added.
On Saturday, it snowed in and around Tsomgo Lake. The Jawaharlal Nehru Road was covered with ice.
“Because of the snowfall, the state issued permits to tourists only till 15th Mile so that they do not get stranded. Based on the weather in the coming days, permits will be issued for Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir,” said a tour operator based in Gangtok.
The troops of the Trishakti Corps, headquartered in Sukna on the outskirts of Siliguri, have on several occasions rescued tourists stranded in snow at Tsomgo (Chhangu) Lake in east Sikkim and along the JLN Road that links the lake and other destinations like Baba Mandir and Nathu-la.
“On March 11 and March 15, major rescue missions were carried out by troops under Operation Himrahat. Around 1,400 tourists were rescued. Sappers took up the arduous task of clearing snow, which involves manoeuvering on some of the highest passes in hostile terrain and sub-zero temperatures. Clearing of roads also helped residents and tourists who depend heavily on roads,” said an official.