New Delhi, October 15
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday virtually initiated the first blasting for Zojila Tunnel project on NH-1 in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Zojila Tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions. Terming Zojila tunnel as Asia’s longest tunnel, Gadkari said: “The tunnel will certainly be used in changing the economy of Ladakh, Leh and Kashmir. With the efforts of all the people of our department, we have also saved about Rs 4,000 crores in this tunnel work.”
This project holds strategic significance as the Zojila Pass is located at an altitude of 11,578 feet. During winter, it remains closed due to heavy snowfall, thereby cutting off the Ladakh region from Kashmir.
Zojilla Tunnel length is 14.15 km, approach road length 18.63 km and total project length is 32.78 km.
Zojila tunnel project was initially conceived in 2004-05 to bring an all-round economic development and socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It was given to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in July 2016 for implementation on Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) model.
Work was awarded to M/s ITNL (ILFS) at Rs 4,899.42 crore and approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was obtained for a total project cost of Rs 6,808.69 crore for completion within seven years.
The contract agreement was signed on January 24, 2018. Work progressed up to July 2018 but the project was stuck due to financial problems faced by ILFS. The contract was terminated on January 15, 2019.
In February 2020, Gadkari reviewed this whole project in detail and in order to reduce the cost and execute this project on priority, the matter was referred to an expert committee. (ANI)