New Delhi: The construction work of the Zojila tunnel connecting Srinagar and Leh has commenced. Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, pressed the button via videoconferencing and triggered the first blast for the construction work. With this tunnel, Srinagar and Leh will remain connected all around the year.
Zojila pass, on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway, is at the height of 11,558 feet. There is a massive snowfall in this region in winter. Therefore, Zojila pass is open for vehicular movement only for six months of the year. But the Zojila tunnel will ensure that Srinagar and Leh are connected for all the 12 months of the year. The travel time between Srinagar and Leh will be reduced from 3 hours to 15 minutes with this tunnel. As of today, the pass is the most dangerous road in the world for vehicular movement.
Zojila tunnel is 14.15 kilometres long, and Gadkari said that it is geographically very sensitive. This is the longest tunnel in Asia, and Gadkari underlined that it would help improve the economic state of the region and employment will be generated for the locals. The restructuring of the construction plan without compromising on security and quality has resulted in a saving of ₹40 billion. It is said that as per the timetable, the construction of the tunnel will take six years.
The citizens in Kargil, Dras and Ladakh were demanding construction of Zojila tunnel since the last 30 years. The wait is finally over. Completion of this tunnel project will be an important achievement in the history of India. This route will prove strategically very important to reach supplies to the soldiers of the army deployed on the border, in case of an emergency situation arising out of the increasing activities of China and Pakistan, in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The infrastructure facilities in the border regions are being increased from a security point of view. China has created a massive infrastructure in the border region, in a short time, for large scale military deployment. Because of this, India too has given an impetus to infrastructure development in the border areas. India has undertaken infrastructure projects in the border areas near the Line of Actual Control with a new zest. Two days ago, the Defence Minister inaugurated 44 bridges in the regions near the China and Pakistan borders. Before this, the Prime Minister dedicated the Atal Tunnel to the nation.