The 14.15 km Zoji la bidirectional tunnel will be Asia’s longest. Located on the Srinagar-Leh road, under the Zoji La pass, it will shorten the distance between Baltal (Sonamarg) and Minamarg in the Kargil region of Ladakh from 40 km to 13 km. That would slash travel time from over three hours to 15 minutes.
India’s longest road tunnel
The 14.4 km Zojila tunnel will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country and the biggest in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. When the Zojila tunnel will be completed, it will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. Work is being done at a brisk pace.
The Zoji La tunnel project was approved by the Government of India in January 2018 and the commencement of its construction was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2018.
Two division work
The first part involves the development and expansion of the 18.475 km highway between Z-Morh to Zoji La. Along this alignment, about 3.018 km highway stretch will be expanded. The remaining portion of the highway (13.842 km) will be freshly developed.
The second division involves the construction of the 14.15 km Zoji La tunnel, which will be a two-lane highway (9.5 m wide and 7.57 m high) in the shape of a horseshoe. The New Austrian Tunnelling Method, an advanced technology, is being used in these works.
Importance of the project
– It is strategically important for Ladakh as it shares de facto borders with Pakistan and China and depends on air supplies for about six months of the year.
– Indian military planners say it will provide logistics flexibility to the military and give it operational and strategic mobility.
– It will be of great importance to the defence of the country because massive military activities along our borders in Ladakh, Gilgit, and Baltistan regions are taking place.
– The Zojila tunnel project will make the travel on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches and would enhance safety.
The Zojila tunnel project is planned as a smart tunnel, it will have the latest safety features such as a fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs, traffic logging equipment, and tunnel radio system.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, earlier, the tunnel’s construction cost was worked out at Rs 6,575.85 crore and after considering the inflation at 5% per annum, the project’s total capital cost is estimated to be Rs 8,308 crore.
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