Reported in the Daily Excelsior it would appear that the funding of highway maintenance on the road linking Padum with Kargil is going to receive some extra scrutiny. Accusations made at State level suggest that whilst an ample maintenance budget exists, a large percentage of funding has not been released by senior engineers and officers at Roads and Buildings. Having travelled this road a number of times in recent years my bruised coccyx can vouch for the fact that significant work is needed. The surfaced section leaving Kargil is in a poor state of disrepair prompting debate as to whether a pot-holled surfaced road is better than a smooth unsurfaced dirt track. Either way it needs some serious attention. My only hope is that any funds released to Padum's PWD are carefully audited as it is common knowledge that a significant percentage of budgeted funds are siphoned off in amounts corresponding to engineering rank.
There are rumours of a heavy snowfall in the Kargil area on January 8th. It is possible that the Pensi La has finally closed, so if you are a chaddar walker banking on a ride out to Kargil, and then Leh, you might have to begin contemplating the return journey down the river.
I have just this minute received an email from Zanskar stating that a vehicle left for Kargil this morning - the Pensi La remains open. There is little snow (as you would expect), it is cold with a little wind. So, perhaps this year chaddar-trekkers arriving in Padum can - for the first time ever - take the bus out to Kargil and then Leh. Failing that one could always try the weekly air service that has now commenced between Kargil and Jammu, although, as this is administered by the military I suspect this service is not open to foreign nationals.
Reported in the Daily Excelsior Ladakh is currently experiencing seasonally low temperatures, especially at night. For all those setting out on the chaddar in the next few weeks this may well be good news, although be aware that very cold nights tend to force water out onto the surface of the river. Reports from Zanskar also suggest that the Pensi La may still be open as there is a marked absence of snow. This has not however been confirmed for the last couple of weeks so conditions may well have changed.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!