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Work begins on Srinagar-Leh Zojila tunnel

Work begins on Srinagar-Leh Zojila tunnel

Work on the Zojila tunnel began Thursday with the ceremonial blasting. The tunnel will provide an all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh (Ladakh plateau) on NH-1 and will bring about an all-round economic and socio–cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir (now UTs of J&K and Ladakh). It involves construction of a 14.15 Km long tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass (presently motorable only for six months in a year) on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras & Kargil. It is one of the most dangerous stretch in the world to drive a vehicle & this project is also geo-strategically sensitive.

The project was first conceived in 2005 and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by BRO in year 2013 on BOT (Annuity) mode. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone at Leh on May 19, 2018. After a stop-start ride, Minister for Road transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari reviewed the whole project in detail again earlier this year and referred the matter to an expert group which suggested several modalities for project completion in least possible time and cost.

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-17560" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Zozila-Tunnel-construction.jpg" alt="" />

<strong>Significance of the project: </strong>
<li>The construction of Zojila tunnel will provide an all-weather safe connectivity between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions. The all-weather safe connectivity of the road is immensely important from the strategic point of view.</li>
<li>The construction of Zojila tunnel shall bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions which remains cut-off from rest of the country during winters due to heavy snowfall for about six months.</li>
<li>A tunnel in Zojila is the only viable alternative at present for a full year connectivity road. This tunnel when completed will be a landmark achievement in the history of modern India. It will also be of great importance to the defence of the country, in view of the fact that massive military activities along India's borders in Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan regions are taking place.</li>
<li>Zojila tunnel project shall bring to fruition 30 years of overwhelming public demand of Kargil, Drass and Ladakh region.</li>
<li>This Project will make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.</li>
<li>Project would enhance the safety of the travelers crossing Zojila Pass and would reduce the travel time from more than 3 hours currently to just 15 minutes.</li>
<li>Project will generate employment to the locals.</li>
<img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-17561" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Zozila-Tunnel-construction1-1024×300.jpg" alt="" />

Emergency lay-bys are located at intervals of 750 m staggered on both sides of the carriageway. There are sidewalks on both sides of the carriageway. Emergency call niches and hydrant niches are situated at intervals of 125 m. Manual fire alarm push buttons and portable fire extinguishers shall be at the disposal of all drivers. A telephone shall be installed at the emergency call niches besides adequate placement of fire hydrants and hydrant niches, fire extinguishers, etc. The tunnel lighting and video surveillance system will also be installed. An automatic fire detection and suppression system in the tunnel and a traffic control system with a central control room will also be operationalized.