Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will initiate simultaneous blasting for Zojila Tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh today. The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh on NH-1 and will bring about an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir.
It involves construction of a 14.15-kilometre long tunnel at an altitude of about three thousand metres under Zojila pass on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras and Kargil. The Ministry said that it is one of the most dangerous stretch in the world to drive a vehicle and this project is also geo-strategically sensitive.
Reports said that, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari will virtually launch the ceremonial blast at the tunnel sites. Both on the east portal of ZojiLa Tunnel at Meenamarg on Kargil side in UT Ladakh and the west portal of Nilagrar tunnel in Ganderbal district of UT Jammu & Kashmir, tunnel works would begin with simultaneous blasts this morning.
Though the ZojiLa Tunnel project was approved in 2013 at a cost of nine thousand 240 crore rupees, attempts to award the contract failed four times. An attempt by the incumbent government in 2017 was also in vain.
After two years of foundation stone by PM Narendra Modi, an Expert Committee in consultation with all the stakeholders has come out with a workable project by reducing the cost to four thousand 430 crore rupees, by half of the original estimate.
Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) was awarded with the contract of construction of ZojiLa Tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg within six years and nearly 19-KM approach roads on both sides in two and half years.