Sonamarg (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], September 27 (ANI): Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari will review and inspect the Zojila and Z-Morh tunnel projects on Tuesday.
Zojila tunnel is of significant importance with regard to national security and development to both UTs as it will provide round the year connectivity to the Ladakh region- Kargil and Leh.
Zojila Tunnel, which is envisaged to provide all-weather connectivity to Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh to Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, will be completed at the cost of Rs 4,500 crore. The ceremonial blast of the Zojila tunnel was done on October 15, 2020.
The tunnel is quite significant in nature and will help to keep the Union Territory of Ladakh connected for the whole year with the rest of the country. The tunnel will also boost the tourism sector of both the Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir UTs and keep the hassle-free movement of the armed forces during any weather conditions, informed National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) Executive Director Brigadier (Rtd) G.S. Kambo.
The project site of the Zojila tunnel is located at the existing highway NH-01 starting from Sonamarg in J-K and ending at Minamarg in Ladakh at an elevation ranging from 2,700 m to 3,300 m thus making the Zojila Tunnel (13.2 km) the longest tunnel at this elevation in the 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.
Explaining about both Z-Morh and Zojila tunnel projects Kambo said in a press briefing here that these two projects were need of the hour for all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir UTs.
"In the extremely cold winters, the entire population from Sonamarg moves down. To keep the connectivity open, a Z-Morh tunnel was required to be made," he said.
"Further, as we go into the dark valley, we have Zjila Pass at 8,500 feet. This pass remains virtually closed for five-six months every year, n other words, Ladakh from Kashmir remains cut-off for five-six months every year. So, for all-around and all-weather connectivity, there was a necessity to make a tunnel that is connecting to Sonamarg and Ladakh," Kambo said.
The existing Srinagar-Ladakh highway is closed from mid-November to April, literally cutting off this entire region from the rest of the world and posing a big hurdle for the movement of the Army and military vehicles.
The alternative routes are long-winding and time-consuming, resulting in huge expenditures. Moreover, these alternative routes are closer to the Indo-China and Indo-Pakistan borders. Therefore a strategic alternative was the need of the hour. This is where the Zojila Tunnel project comes in, he noted.
Once the tunnel is completed, travel between Srinagar and Ladakh throughout the year will become a reality. While the distance will be reduced from Baltal to Minamarg from 40 km to 13 km, travel time too will be reduced by 1.5 hours between the two Union Territories.
The project will lead to the integrated development of both the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh regions, at maximum speed.
The Z-Morh tunnel will facilitate locals and tourists to access Sonamarg during the winter season as well and will facilitate a socio-economic boost to Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel project is being executed on DBFOT mode with an approximate cost of Rs 2,378 crore.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Singh Thakur on Monday also inspected Zojila and Z-Morh tunnel projects. (ANI)