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Srinagar, April 10 – Union road transport and highways Minister Nitin Gadkari inspected the Zojila tunnel with J&K Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday.
The 13.14 km long Zojila Tunnel will be Asia’s longest tunnel which will establish all weather connectivity for Ladakh region with the rest of the country.
The MPs, who are part of the Parliamentary consultative committee on road transport and highways, also accompanied the minister.
Speaking to the media during his visit to Zojila Tunnel, Gadkari said that 19 tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore.
“Under this, the construction of a 13.14 km long tunnel and approach road at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore is in progress in Zojila.
“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 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 Rs 5,000 crore”, Gadkari said.
Under the Zojila Tunnel project,the main Zojila tunnel of 13,153 meters with four culverts of total length of 810 meters, four Nilgrar tunnels of total length of 4,821 meters, eight 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 per cent 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.
Officials said that 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.