SRINAGAR: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the construction work of the Zojilla tunnel and said that he has directed the authorities to complete the approaching tunnels before the 2024 parliamentary election.
“I am satisfied with the speed of the construction and have told the authorities to complete the construction of the approaching tunnels before May 2024, so that we can show the opposition that we have achieved,” Gadkari said while addressing a press conference after inspecting work progress on Zojila and Z-Morh tunnel.
Gadkari said that the tunnel will play a pivotal role in saving time and connecting Kashmir with Ladakh throughout the year. “After the completion of Zojilla tunnel, it will take 15 minutes to reach Minimarg in Drass which usually takes 3 hours at present.
Gadkari said the project will be completed by the end of 23 December 2024, “so that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can inaugurate it on 26 January 2025.” Gadkari said that extensive road networks in the Himalayan Region will help boost the tourism sector in the area. The minister is on a two-day visit to the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
“The Central Government has given a new impetus to the construction of new highways, tunnels and bridges which will bring transformative changes in the lives of people and will create huge employment opportunities to the local people,” he said.
Gadkari said that projects worth Rs1 lakh crore are currently being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir
“Among all the projects, six of them are the most important ones for the socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Gadkari said that since 2014, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took over the government, the national highway has been stretched from 1695 km to 2664 km.
“There has been an increase of 969 km in the national highway,” he said. Gadkari Tuesday visited Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels here on Tuesday to review and inspect work on the tunnels. The minister is on a two-day visit to Jammu & Kashmir to review the progress on Tunnel 1 and Tunnel 2 at the Nilgrar site. These twin tunnels are part of an 18 km long approach road to Zojila west portal.
He also visits the Zojila through the east and west ends. Addressing the media, settlement engineer Burhan Ahmad said that NHIDCL is geared up to continue the work on zojila tunnel in winter months and the project will provide all-weather connectivity to the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The Zojila tunnel is of significant importance to the development and tourism for both UTs of J&K and Ladakh as it will provide round the year connectivity to the Ladakh region.
Prashant Kumar (DGM) while talking with reporters, said that the tunnel has a historical significance and from the last 20 years the government is working on the project.
“Without wasting a day we are doing work round the clock to complete the project before the scheduled date to connect the people of J&K Union Territory with Drass, Ladakh UT round the year,” Kumar said
Meanwhile, in view of the visit of the minister for road transport and highways and LG at Zojilla tunnel, Div Com, IGP Kashmir, DIG CKR, DC Ganderbal, SSP Ganderbal and other district and subdivision officers reached Sonamarg.
Once completed, the Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. Several bridges are being constructed along this route and a connecting tunnel from Z-Morh in the National Highway-1 to Zojila tunnel will be constructed in the Zojila Ghats between Sonamarg and Kargil.
The entire work is divided into two divisions in the 33 km span.The project site of Zojila tunnel is located at existing highway (NH-01) starting from Sonamarg (UT of J&K) and ending at Minimarg (UT of Ladakh) at an elevation ranging from 2700m to 3300m. The present site location falls into seismic zone IV and all precautionary measures have been provisioned to safeguard the tunnels—(KNO)