October 15 will be remembered as a historic day for J&K and Ladakh as a crucial Zojila tunnel connecting both the UTs witnessed first blasting.
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha termed the ceremonial blasting of Zoji-la Tunnel as a ‘Turning point’ for the Union Territories of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, which will not only make the emotional connections of regions to a new level but will also provide physical connectivity throughout the year.
The Lt Governor was speaking on the occasion of the first ceremonial blast at Zoji-la Tunnel- the longest tunnel road in Asia. The ceremonial blast was initiated by Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Shri Nitin Gadkari through virtual mode.
The Lt Governor expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, and Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Shri Nitin Gadkari for the beginning of work on the ambitious project.
The Lt Governor hoped that after completion of the project in December 2023, Sonamarg in Ganderbal district would receive and attract more winter tourism. It was informed that the project has been planned on the European Model.
The Lt Governor said that work on the approach road to the tunnel is expected to be completed within 30 months while the tunnel itself will take around 72 months to complete. With a length of 14.83 km, the tunnel would be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. ‘The tunnel will add to the socio-economic and cultural growth of the region and will address our strategic needs’, observed the Lt Governor.
‘The tunnel will not only provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh but will also reduce travel time from three and a half hours to only 15 minutes’, claimed the Lt Governor.
In connection with the project, 5 brides, 6 catch dams, 13 deflector dams, 8 cut and covers, 2 snow galleries, and 8 blast walls will also be constructed to provide avalanche protection between Sonamarg and Baltal. Exhaustive research and planning have been done while designing the project which includes manual fire alarm, portable fire extinguisher, automatic fire detection system, etc.
Works are also underway by NHILDCL on Z-Morh and Zojila Tunnel along with the work on the approach road and Avalanche Protection Works. While the Z-Morh tunnel is 6.5 km long, the Nilgrar Twin Tunnel is 2.4 km and the Zojila Tunnel is 14.15 km.
The tunnel will ensure year-round logistic support to the region and supply of essential commodities, Lt Governor added.
‘I always believe transport infrastructure is the most important element for holistic development and overall growth of a region and it brings territorial integrity. I am confident, Zoji-la Tunnel, will ensure enhanced business activities and will transform the areas where so far we have seen less development activities’, said the Lt Governor. ‘It will facilitate the trade and movement of the workforce throughout the year between the two Union territories’, the Lt Governor concluded.