Nitin Gadkari, the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister, initiated the construction work on the 14.15 Km Zojila tunnel, the longest tunnel in Asia. It will be the all year link between Srinagar valley and Leh situated on the Srinagar – Kargil – Leh National Highway.
The construction is scheduled to be completed in the next four years and the Prime Minister has inaugurated the work at the Zojila Pass. ‘It was a moment of pride for India’, said Gadkari.
In 2004-2005, the idea of building that Zojila tunnel was proposed which was taken up by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited in 2016 for execution.
The contract was given to ILFS in January 2018, but the work was stopped due to financial issues in July 2018. Finally, the project was terminated in 2019. However, in Feb 2020, the project was again studied by Gadkari in detail and there was a reduction in the costs and execution.
The contract of the construction was later given to Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd who quoted Rs 4,509.5 crore which earlier was approved at Rs 6,575.85 crore.
The avalanche-free tunnel is likely to decrease the time of travelling from 3 hours to 15 minutes. The project was remodeled and it saved over Rs. 4000 crores without compromising quality and security. This project will establish the socio-economic hold on both the union territories.
The project includes the construction of seven tunnel roads, the 8,450-metre twin-tube tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal shall be completed by early next year. The 2,968 metres six single tunnels between Ramban and Banilal is scheduled to be completed in December 2021. The 450-metre tunnel between Khilani and Kishtwar is due in June 2022.
Nitin Gadkari said that the construction of Delhi-Katra expressway would cost 21,000 crores but will reduce the distance to only 650 km.
Union Minister, Gadkari said, ‘the tunnel will be a landmark achievement in the history of Modern India and also for the Defence of the country.’ The government is also expecting a boost in tourism and employment.