Work to be completed sooner than expected: Gadkari
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari inspected the upcoming Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels in Kashmir on Tuesday. His inspection came days after Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur went to see development of the project over the weekend.
Both projects, which are carried out by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), are likely to be completed ahead of their scheduled timeline.
Zojila Tunnel, which is going to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel at 14.15 kms, is being constructed at a cost of ₹4,500 crore. It is located at the existing NH-01 at an elevation ranging from 2,700 metres to 3,300 metres
During the inspection of construction work on Zojila, Gadkari said that an extensive road network in the Himalayan region will help boost the tourism sector in the region and will provide huge employment opportunities to the people and strengthen the economy.
“The work on both the tunnels is going on at a fast pace and we are confident that it will be completed ahead of the schedule, before the contracted time of completion.” he said
The tunnel promises to reduce distance between Baltal in Kashmir and Minamarg in Ladakh from 40 km to 13 kms. It will also provide all-weather access for commuters between Srinagar and Ladakh throughout the year.
On the other hand, the Z-Morh tunnel, being constructed at a cost of 2,378 crore, will connect Sonamarg with Gagangir in the Kashmir valley even during the winter season when heavy snowfall blocks most of the roads. This tunnel could be crucial for socio-economic boost in the region. The existing Srinagar-Ladakh highway remains closed for at least six months during winter, practically cutting off the region from the rest of the world.
“Both these tunnels are also strategically important for India since they pass very close to the Line of Control with Pakistan. Once completed, these tunnels will also provide free movement of armed forces even during inclement weather conditions”, he added
Earlier Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Sunday reviewed the construction work of the Zojila Pass tunnel in the Kargil district of Ladakh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project in May 2018 with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari launching the first blasting for construction-related work at the Zojila tunnel last year.
The Union Youth Affairs and Sports minister said around Rs 4500 crore will be spent on the project. “I am glad that the process is taking place rapidly in this project and another blast has been initiated for Zojila Tunnel so that the project is completed at the earliest,” Thakur said.