The Government of India Wednesday approved the construction, operation and maintenance of two-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with Parallel Escape (Egress) Tunnel, which it said holds “strategic and socio-economic importance” and will reduce the travel time by over three hours.
According to the cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the construction of the tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
“The project has strategic and socio-economic importance and shall be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu and Kashmir,” said an official statement.
According to the government, the construction period of the project is seven years which shall be reckoned from the date of commencement of construction. The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4,899.42 crore.
The main objective of the project is to provide all-whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in Jammu and Kashmir which at the moment is limited to at best six months because of snow on the passes and threat of avalanches.
“Zojila tunnel will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. (Its) construction period (will be) seven years because of a very difficult terrain where in some areas temperature dips to minus 45 degree celsius. The tunnel shall be a engineering marvel as first of its kind in such a geographical area,” road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said.
The project would enhance the safety of travellers crossing Zojila Pass and reduce the travel time by over three hours, he added.
“Defense forces have to face hard time ensuring supplies to border posts during winters. This pass is most strategic for the entire Kargil sector which has seen intrusion and war in the past,” Gadkari said.