Union minister for Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday visited Zojila pass and Sonmarg in Kashmir to take stock of work on strategically important tunnels that will provide all weather connectivity to Ladakh.
Zojila tunnel and Z-Morh tunnels are part of a strategic project for ensuring round-the-year connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh region which remains closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall.
The union minister was accompanied by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha and members of Parliament of Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Road Transport and Highways during the inspection.
Official said while work on 6.5 km Z- MORH Tunnel, will be completed by the end of the year, the work on 13 km long Zojila tunnel is expected to be completed by 2026. The Zojila tunnel is longest road tunnel in India.
In a series of tweets the Union Minister said the Government of India has saved Rs 5000 crore by the use of modern technology in Zojila tunnel project.
He said 19 tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25 thousand crore.
Under this, construction work of a 13.14 km long tunnel and approach road is in progress at Zojila at a cost of Rs 6800 crore. It is a 7.57 meter high horseshoe-shaped single tube, 2-lane tunnel, which will pass under the Zojila Pass in the Himalayas between Ganderbal in Kashmir and Drass town in Kargil district of Ladakh, the tweet said.
The project includes a Smart Tunnel (SCADA) system, constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method. It is equipped with facilities like CCTV, radio control, uninterrupted power supply, and ventilation.
“Till now 28% work of Zojila Tunnel has been completed.” he said
With the construction of this tunnel, there will be all-weather connectivity for Ladakh. Now the average travel time to cross the Zojila Pass sometimes takes three hours, after the completion of this tunnel the travel time will come down to 20 minutes. The reduction in travel time will ultimately result in fuel savings.
This tunnel will provide year-round connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which will be extremely important for the development of Ladakh, promotion of tourism, free movement of local goods and movement of Indian armed forces in case of emergency, another tweet said