Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday inspected the Zojila Tunnel, Asia's longest tunnel, to establish an all weather connectivity for Ladakh.
A total 19 tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore. Under this, the construction of a 13.14 km-long tunnel and approach road at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore is in progress in Zojila.
It is a 7.57 metre-high horseshoe-shaped single-tube, two-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 Centre more than Rs 5,000 crore.
So far 28 per cent of work for the construction of the Zojila Tunnel has been completed.
Officials said that with the construction of this tunnel, there will be an 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 only 20 minutes.
The terrain near Zojila Pass is extremely inhospitable, with many fatal accidents taking place here every year.
After the completion of tTunnel, 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, free movement of local goods and movement of Indian armed forces in case of emergency.