Work on Zojila Tunnel to Continue Even in Winter

KO Photos By Abid Bhat

Complete Tunnel by Dec 2023, Gadkari Tells MEIL

Sonmarg: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has urged the contractors to expedite work on the 14.15-km Zojila Tunnel, and to take it up as a “challenge and complete the project three years ahead of the 2026 deadline.

The Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd (MEI) is expediting the execution of the Rs 4,600-crore project, connecting the Leh-Ladakh region to Srinagar.

Terming the Zojila tunnel of significant importance for both Kashmir and Ladakh, Gadkari said that extensive road networks in the Himalayan region will help boost the tourism sector in the area.

The minister, who is on a two day visit to Jammu & Kashmir, made these remarks while addressing media persons here on Tuesday.

The Minister gave the detailed information about the two tunnel projects and said that the Central Government has given a new impetus to the construction of new highways, tunnels and bridges which will bring transformative changes in the lives of people and will create huge employment opportunities to the local people.

“He said that the Zojila tunnel project will provide all weather connectivity to Ladakh. He assured that work on the Zojila Tunnel is in full capacity and NHIDCL is geared up to continue the work in winter months. He stressed for putting in every effort in place to complete the project well before the scheduled date,” the official spokesperson said.

Gadkari, he said, expressed his satisfaction on the work progress and said that the Zojila tunnel is of a significant importance to the development and tourism for both UTs of J&K and Ladakh as it will provide round the year connectivity to Ladakh region.

Pertinent to mention that, once completed the Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. Several bridges are being constructed along this route and a connecting tunnel from Z-Morh in the National Highway-1 to Zojila tunnel will be constructed in the Zojila Ghats between Sonamarg and Kargil. The entire work is divided into two divisions in the 33 km span.

This project coming up at an altitude of 11,578 ft will provide all-weather connectivity to Ladakh against just five months access with the Srinagar-Kargil highway closed from mid-November to April, cutting off this entire region from the rest of the world.

This pass will also provide easy movement of the Army vehicles.

Stressing upon the state of art infrastructure in the tunnel projects, Gadkari said that appropriate security measures have been kept in place including vertical shafts at three places and adequate security and lighting measures with CCTV, fire alarm and heat detection systems at par with international standards.

“He further highlighted various important tunnel, rail and road projects of the country that were completed on priority by the Government keeping in mind border security alongside development and said various infrastructure development projects are going on in full swing throughout Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Giving details of the under-construction projects, the official spokesperson said that the project site of Zojila tunnel is located at existing highway (NH-01) starting from Sonamarg (J&K) and ending at Minamarg (UT of Ladakh) at an elevation ranging from 2700m to 3300m, thus making the Zojila Tunnel (13.2 km) the longest tunnel at this elevation in Asia region.

“The present site location falls into seismic zone IV and all precautionary measures have been provisioned to safeguard the structures provisioned in the project,” he said.

He further said that earlier the Minister also reviewed the progress on Tunnel 1 and Tunnel 2 at Nilgrar site and Z-Morh site.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Gen. V.K. Singh, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, P.K Pole, IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, DDC Chairperson Ganderbal, Nuzhat Ishfaq, Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna and officers/ Officials of NHIDCL were present on the occasion.

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Abid Bhat

Abid Bhat is Senior Photojournalist at Kashmir Observer. He tweets at @bhat_abid

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