Inspects project site; says tunnel to help fulfil Kashmir to Kanyakumari dream; project cost Rs 7000 Crore, urges LG to explore all possibilities of promoting site for tourism, provide employment to local youth, Amarnath yatra to help give tourism push to site; J&K to have 19 tunnels at Rs 25000 Cr
Zojila (Ganderbal), Apr 10 : Union Minister for Roads, Highways and Transport, Nitin Gadkari Monday said that Zojila tunnel will be historic in India’s history and longest one in the Asia given its length. He said a part of the tunnel will shortly be inaugurated while as the total estimated cost of the tunnel is Rs 7000 Cr.
Talking to reporters at Zojila, Gadkari, who is leading the 13-member Parliamentary Panel to Kashmir, said that the Zojila tunnel will be historic in India. “This tunnel will fulfil the dream of Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This tunnel is the longest one in Asia given its length of 13. 14 km,” Gadkari said as per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO). He said earlier, the estimated cost of the tunnel was Rs 12000 Crore and after roping in national and international experts, its cost was brought down by Rs 5000. “In winters, working conditions are so tough here as people have to work under minus 26 degrees temperature. Earlier, this tunnel was tendered four times and on the fifth go, work was started,” said Gadkari, who was accompanied by J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
He said that the ministry led by him will try to inaugurate the part of the tunnel shortly as that will give relief to the people.
To Boost Tourism: Gadkari said that the tourism sector creates employment and the Zojila site is apt for promoting tourism. “During the Kargil war, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visualized that this area should have better connectivity and today, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendera Modi, we are fulfilling Vajpayee’s dream,” he said, adding that “we have road to Baltal and to the cave shrine of Amarnath Baba. During the yatra we have a huge rush of pilgrims and tourists. I urge the LG to plan resorts and adventure sports infrastructure in this area on the lines of Switzerland to promote tourism with the active support and employment to locals of the area.”
He said the area will help promote socio-economic transformation and provide better livelihood opportunities to locals of the area.
19 tunnels to come up in J&K: At the cost of Rs 25000 Crore, 19 tunnels will be constructed in J&K. “With the construction of these tunnels, we will be able to cover long distances within shortest possible time,” Gadkari said. “In Zojila project, there will be a 7.57 metre high horseshoe-shaped single-tube, 2-lane tunnel, which will pass under the Zojila Pass in the Himalayas between Ganderbal in Kashmir and Drass town in Kargil district of Ladakh,” the Union Minister said. He said that the project includes a Smart Tunnel (SCADA) system, which has been constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method.
Hi-tech facilities in Tunnel: “It will be equipped with facilities like CCTV, radio control, uninterrupted power supply, and ventilation. The use of modern technology in this project has saved the Government of India more than 5000 crore rupees as earlier, the project cost was Rs 12000 Crore,” Gadkari said.
Features of Zojila Tunnel: The Union Minister said that the main Zojila tunnel of 13,153 meters with 4 culverts of total length of 810 meters, 4 Nilgrar tunnels of total length of 4,821 meters, 8 cut and covers of total length of 2,350 meters.
“So far 28 per cent work of Zojila Tunnel has been completed,” he said.
All Weather Connectivity for Ladakh: The Union Minister said that with the construction of this tunnel, there will be all-weather connectivity for Ladakh. “Currently the average travel time to cross the Zojila Pass sometimes takes three hours, after the completion of this tunnel the travel time will come down to 20 minutes. The reduction in travel time will ultimately result in fuel savings,” he said.
Zero Accident chances after Tunnel: The Union Minister said that the terrain near Zojila Pass is extremely inhospitable, with many fatal accidents taking place here every year. After the completion of Zojila Tunnel, the chances of accidents will be zero. “This tunnel will provide year-round connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which will be extremely important for the development of Ladakh, promotion of tourism and free movement of local goods,” he said—(KNO)