New Delhi: On Wednesday, the Cabinet approved the construction of the Zojila tunnel which is strategically important in warfare. To be built at a cost of 6809 crores, the Zojila tunnel shall be vital in connecting the Kashmir valley with Ladakh. Due to snowfalls and avalanches in winter, Ladakh is cut off from the rest of the country. In such conditions, if the Zojila tunnel is built, transport to Leh Ladakh can continue round the year.
The meeting of the Cabinet Ministers held on Wednesday approved the construction of the Zojila tunnel. Zojila lies in the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway 1-D region, at a height of 1578 feet above sea-level. In the period between December-March, this region experiences extensive snowfall and Jammu-Kashmir (National Highway-1) loses contact with the country. To overcome this problem, it has been decided to construct the 14.8 km long Zojila tunnel.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi presided over the meeting of the Cabinet Ministers in which the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) was also approved along with the Zojila tunnel. The 14.15 km long Zojila tunnel will be of two lanes. It will run between Baltal and Meenamarg. This will enable transportation to Leh-Ladakh in all kinds of weather conditions which is why this decision is of high significance.
In view of the infiltration from Pakistan and China, Zojila tunnel becomes strategically significant for warfare. Mere construction cost for this tunnel will be Rs.4899.42 crores and including the costs for land acquisition, rehabilitation, etc. the net cost is estimated to go up to Rs.6808.69 crores.
The tunnel shall be completed over a period of 7 years. The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways will be implementing the said project. Tenders had been invited for the construction of the tunnel, a few months ago. The tender for construction of the tunnel has been awarded to “IL&FS Transportation”.
The tunnel will prove to be of high significance for the military activities in the border regions of North Kashmir. The Government is currently making efforts to improve transportation to the border regions.
In the meanwhile, the Cabinet in its meeting approved the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) of Rs.5369 crores. The first “National Water-way” will be developed in this project. This National Waterway – 1 shall be developed between Haldia and Varanasi.
The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) will provide waterway transportation between Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Varanasi. Officers informed that this project would be completed by 2023. It is believed that waterway development shall help to reduce the cost of transportation.