Srinagar: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday inspected Zojila Tunnel – Asia’s longest tunnel to establish all weather connectivity for Ladakh – alongside Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha and members of Parliament of Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Road Transport and Highways.
The construction of 13.14 km long Zojila tunnel and approach road is coming up at a cost of Rs 6800 crore. It is a 7.57 m 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 project, as per GNS, includes a Smart Tunnel (SCADA) system, which has been constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method. It is equipped with facilities like CCTV, radio control, uninterrupted power supply and ventilation. The use of modern technology in this project has saved the Government of India more than 5000 crore rupees.
Under the Zojila Tunnel project,the main Zojila tunnel of 13,153 meters with 4 culverts of total length of 810 meters, 4 Nilgrar tunnels of total length of 4,821 meters, 8 cut and covers of total length of 2,350 meters and three 500 meters, 391 meters and 220 meters of vertical ventilation shaft are proposed. So far 28% work of Zojila Tunnel has been completed.
With the construction of this tunnel, there will be all-weather connectivity for Ladakh. Currently 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.
The terrain near Zojila Pass is extremely inhospitable, with many fatal accidents taking place here every year. After the completion of Zojila Tunnel, the chances of accidents will be zero. 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.
Notably, 19 tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25000 crore.