The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the construction of the strategic Zojila Pass tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore.
The decision has been taken keeping in mind that Srinagar, Kargil and Leh remain cut-off from the rest of the world due to heavy snowfall during winters (December to April). The project will reduce the travel time between Srinagar and Leh to 15 minutes from the current 3.5 hours with providing all-weather connectivity to the region. Zojila Pass tunnel will be Asia’s longest 2-lane bi-directional pass.
Here are some top features of the project:
# The tunnel will reduce the travel time between Srinagar and Leh drastically. It also aims to provide safe, fast and cheap connectivity.
# The project will provide all-weather connectivity to the region. 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, the government statement said.
# The 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 an engineering marvel as first of its kind in such a geographical area.
# Defense forces have to face a 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.
# Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the project and work is likely to start this year.
# The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4,899.42 crore. The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6,808.69 crore. It includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of tunnel for four years.
# The project aims at construction of 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 project will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).
# The project will further increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities. On its completion, it will lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to National market and the beautiful region is able to receive round the year tourist traffic.
(With inputs from PTI)
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