GANDERBAL, APR 10: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday inspected Zojila Tunnel – Asia’s longest tunnel to establish all weather connectivity for Ladakh – and also inspected Geo-strategically important Z-Morh Tunnel on Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH-1) in presence of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and members of Parliament of Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Road Transport and Highways.
Talking to media persons after reviewing the construction work of both Zojila and Z Morh tunnels, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkarisaid that the Govt of India has constructed over 19 tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25000 crore that will boost the economic conditions of J&K UT.
He said that Zojila is a historical and important Tunnel in the history of India, adding that the tunnel is supposed to be Asia's longest tunnel.
Both projects are under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), "it will also be of great importance to the defence of the country," he told media persons.
The construction of 13.14 km long Zojila tunnel and approach road is coming up at a cost of Rs 6800 crore. It is a 7.57 m 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 project includes a Smart Tunnel (SCADA) system, which has been constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method. It is 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.
Under the Zojila Tunnel project,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 and three 500 meters, 391 meters and 220 meters of vertical ventilation shaft are proposed. So far 28% work of Zojila Tunnel has been completed.
The union minister said that the Z-Morh tunnel between Gagangir and Sonmarg and Zojila tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg will provide connectivity in all weather conditions throughout the year.
Similarly, under the Z-Morh tunnel project, a main tunnel of total length of 10.8 meters with a modified horse shoe shape escape tunnel of total length of 7.5 meters, D-shaped ventilation tunnel of total length of 8.3 meters, 2 major culverts of total length of 110 meters and 270 meters, 1 small culvert of total length of 30 meters is proposed. Till now 75% work of Z-Morh Tunnel has been completed. A target has been set to dedicate this tunnel by December 2023.
The Z-Morh tunnel will facilitate locals and tourists to access Sonamarg during the winter season as well. It will also facilitate a socio-economic boost to Jammu and Kashmir.
To mention,alongZojila Pass many fatal accidents occur every year. After the completion of the Zojila Tunnel,It will enhance the safety of the travelers crossing Zojila Pass and the chances of accidents will be minimised.
Right now the average travel time to cross the Zojila Pass, the dangerous road, takes about three hours and after the completion of this tunnel, the travel time will be reduced to 20 minutes, resulting in significant fuel savings.
Under this, construction work of 6.5 km length Z-morh tunnel and approach road is in progress at a cost of Rs 2680 crore. This 2-lane road tunnel is being built under the mountain glacier Thajiwas Glacier between Gagangir and Sonamarg in Ganderbal district of Kashmir.
Intelligent Traffic Management System has been installed in Z-Morh Tunnel which will make it easier to control traffic. Along with this, traffic will be facilitated through the dedicated escape tunnel. The Z-Morh tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to the Sonamarg tourist town. The debris generated during the construction work of this project has been used for way-side facilities and development of the area.
The area of Z-Morh tunnel is strategically important as its construction will ensure seamless connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil and there will also be considerable reduction in travel time between Srinagar and Leh. This tunnel will promote social and economic development in the entire region. Tourism in Sonamarg will be promoted including activities like whitewater rafting on Thajiwas Glacier and Sindh River.