Situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, the Zojila pass connects Leh and Ladakh to Kashmir. However, due the heavy snowfall and avalanches during winter, it remains closed from December to April.
Now, a Rs 6,809 crore strategic Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir, will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. No more will this region be cut off from the rest of the world during heavy winter snowfall.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in a statement in NDTV, said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the construction, operation and maintenance of a 2-bi-directional Zojila tunnel with a Parallel Escape Egress Tunnel, excluding approaches on Srinagar-Leh Section, connecting NH-1A at Km 95, and at Km 118, in Jammu & Kashmir, on engineering, procurement and construction mode.
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The statement also mentioned the project, along with other ongoing projects like the 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel at Gagangir, would facilitate safe, fast and cheap connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh, and will further increase work opportunities for local labourers.
The project, to be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), aims to construct a 14.15 km long two-lane, bi-directional single tube tunnel, with a parallel 14.2 km long egress tunnel, excluding approaches between Baltal and Minamarg in the state.
The Indian government has said this project would increase employment opportunities, as local ventures get linked to the National Market, and tourist traffic remains constant year round.
Speaking to the NDTV, Nitin Gadkari, the Road Transport and Highways Minister, said that, “We understand the plight of the people in Leh and Ladakh region who face a severe crisis during winters when they are cut off from the rest of India for six months. We are committed to undertaking the project.”