Centre Approves Zojila Pass Tunnel Project
The Union Cabinet has approved the Zojila Pass Tunnel Project. The ambitious 14-km long tunnel would reduce the travel time of crossing Zojila Pass from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes when completed. The pass will be constructed on the national highway connecting Kashmir with Kargil and Leh.
The government has given its approval to the construction, operation and maintenance of the two-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with Parallel Escape (Egress) Tunnel excluding approaches on Srinagar-Leh section, connecting the NH-1A at 95 km and at 118 km in Jammu and Kashmir, on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
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) and is expected to be completed in seven years.
It will be the longest in Asia and will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore, a project which had been pending for the last two decades.
Besides cutting down the travel time drastically, this tunnel will also be an all-weather road to strategically important Kargil, especially for the armed forces. The troops deployed in the region can depend more on ground supplies rather than air.
The pass will also facilitate the civilians, with round-the-year supplies, who face face harsh winters as the mercury plummets even up to minus 40 degrees below zero.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said the project, for which norms have been relaxed and which was secured about 10 per cent below the tender cost, will benefit the defence forces.
The construction of the project is expected to start this year.
Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.