Snowed under in Gulmarg

NE

Around noon, the team rests for half an hour. When they resume, the machine fails to respond. Chechi examines the machine and delivers his verdict: "A minor fault. It should take half an hour to mend." The officers are trained to operate the machine as well as repair minor faults. "This is a costly machine, and our department has six of these," says Chechi. Dozens of vertical-blade, straight-blade and indigenously developed snow-cat machines have also been deployed in

the Valley.

At 2 pm, Chechi sends the control room and Gulmarg Development Authority officials the message—the road is clear for one-way traffic. In no time, traffic is restored. Among the first to arrive are skiing enthusiasts in complete gear and honeymoon couples.

"It's a big relief that the road is open. But it will take us another four hours for two-way traffic to start," Chechi says. As dusk sets in, he is on his way back to Tangmarg, clearing the road slowly. "From now on, this is our routine as the Met office has issued a snow-rich forecast for days to come," he says, as the Rolba plods on.

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