Zojila Tunnel A Distant Dreams for Ladakh people

Zojila Tunnel A Distant Dreams for Ladakh people

The Zojila pass is the lifeline for the people of this region. Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,649 ft. (3528 meters) on the National Highway 1-A connecting Srinagar-Kargil-Leh. Which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall. Due to the heavy snow fall and avalance at National highway Zojila pass the entire region remain cut off from state and country via road itself. The people are facing shortage of food stuff and other basic essentials. but the irony is that government seems unconcerned about the people of Leh and Kargil. The closure of Zojila pass Kargil, Leh remains cut-off from Kashmir and rest of the world for around five to six months every year. During these months, people of the region are left with no other option but to live in the “freezing open prison” in life-threatening condition. The winter temperature touches as low as minimum 0 degree in Kargil while Drass the second coldest place in the world experience minus 30 degrees Celsius.
It was a dream come true for the people in Ladakh region when the prime minister Narendra Modi unveiled a plaque in May to mark the commencement of work on Rs 7000 crore Zojila tunnel. However much to their disappointment there has been no further progress in the work due to the financial crisis hitting the executing agency, the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Network.
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 19 May 2018 foundation stone of Zojila at Leh.
Commencement of work on much awaited 14 km long tunnel had cheered up people of Ladakh region, which remain inaccessible for rest of the country due to heavy snowfall during winters.
The government of India had sanctioned twin tunnels on the strategic 434 Km Srinagar-Kargil highway to make it all weather. However, the inordinate delays in the execution of these projects had disappointed the commuters as well as the local population in Ladakh region.
Though first approved in 2005 during UPA government, the twin tunnels had remained on the drawing board ever since on account of technical difficulties in implementing the project in such a difficult terrain.
In January, the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) headed by PM Modi finally cleared the Rs 6,808.69 crore project. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways through National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). The NHIDCL had allotted work on the tunnel to IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd in rebidding.
Meanwhile, expressing displeasure over the reports about the cancellation of work on Zojila tunnel, senior national conference and member legislative assembly Kangan, Mian Altaf Ahmed sought the intervention of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, Member parliament Dr Farooq Abdullah, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad so that the work on this vital project is not cancelled.
“The construction of tunnel will provide employment to the local population. In addition to this the improved all-weather road connectivity will boost industrial growth and local economic activities in villages, towns and other areas falling in or situated close to the project highway,” MLA Kangan Mian Altaf Ahmed told RL.
He said that if cancelled there will be further delay in the execution of the project that will cause immense disappointment and hardships to the people.
Significantly, the 6.5 km long tunnel near Z-Morh at Shitkari Sonamarg estimated to cost about Rs 2700 crore is also being constructed by the IL&FS. Sources said that the work on Z-Morh tunnel lies suspended since three months now.
The Zojila pass will be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel and is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore project spanning over 14.2 km, which is expected to be completed in 2026.
Zojila tunnel at Strategic NH 1D which was the age old demand of the people of frontier district Kargil in Particular and of whole Ladakh in General in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall. The construction period of the project is seven years. “One of the largest built own transfer road developers in India was selected for building Southeast Asia Longest Tunnel Zojila. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development) Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).
The people of the coldest desert of Kargil which remain disconnected with rest of the world through road link for several months in a year. Due to the heavy snow fall and avalanche at National highway Zojila pass the entire region remain cut off from state and country via road itself. The people are facing shortage of food stuff and other basic essentials. but the irony is that government seems unconcerned about the people of Leh and Kargil. However Kargil people’s do not have even this Luxury they have to travel all the way to Leh and waity for their turn to fly out only recently an Indian air force service has been started in winter, which ferrying passengers more or less like transportation of cattle there are only two alternative available to end the winter seige of ladakh.
The works on much talked about Zojila tunnel to provide round the year road connectivity to the Ladakh region Leh and Kargil has come to grinding halt and unlikely to begin in the very near future.
The Minister of road and transport and highway Government of India (morth)transferred the project to National highway and infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL)the delay in start of construction work of Zojila tunnel which surfaced first the second time ever since the announcement of the project has again come as a shock to the people of the coldest desert of Kargil which remain disconnected with rest of the world through road link for several months in a year.
The Zojila pass to provide year round access to Ladakh in ancient times the Greater Ladakh which encompasses all area on two side of the boarder was never really separate and cut even in the most severe winter.
The project construction of Zojila Tunnel including approach on NH-1A Srinagar Sonamarg, Gumri Road)was announced by the union Minister for Road and transport Nitim Gadkari On November 7,2015 and it was officially started that works will be being in the month of June 2016 to provide all weather connectivity to the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir . thereafter in the month of January 2016 it was announced by the Union Government that IRB infrastructure development limited one of the largest built own transfer road developers in India was selected for building southeast Asia longest tunnel at Zojila pass at an estimated cost of RS 10,050 Crore. How ever in the month of March 2016 union Government ordered rebidding of the strategic Zojila pass tunnel contract in view of doubt raised in respect of allotment of projects to IRB infrastructure. the work was again delayed as the projected was transferred to National highway and infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd by the Ministry.
The route across Karakorum pass was linked to the famous silk rout a large number of caravan travelled on this route both in summer and winter this was the most important link of Ladakh and Kashmir to central Asia Kargil As Kardoo has been another route of great importance.
However the people don’t have even this Luxury they have to travel all the way to Leh and waity for their turn to fly out only recently an Indian air force service has been started in winter, which ferrying passengers more or less like transportation of cattle there are only two alternative available to end the winter seige of Ladakh.
The most talk about and pending for a long time is the Zojila tunnel the other alternative to end the winter seige of Ladakh till the tunnel come up is to open all surface route to neighbour countries this can be done if an agreement is reached between all the countries in the region for opening up all surface route our political leader from Kargil and Leh, Minister, Member Parliament, MLC, often talk about making border irrelevant but it come to implementing these declaration everyone develops cold feet such an understanding depend upon the politician
This uncertainty in initiating the implementation of this project by the respective central government is widely criticised by all on the cold desert Ladakh region. The road travel is the cheapest mode of transportation by the people of Ladakh as on one side the registration limited air services remain exorbitantly high which a normal Ladakhi can’t afford to. This project has strategic and soci-economic importance it will provide much needed valley weather connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh. This project should be implemented at the earliest so that the aggrieved people of Ladakh Leh and Kargil could take a breath of relief, since rheumatoid have been given hopes time and again but with no results.

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