October 15, 2020
The Tunnel will help improve connectivity between Srinagar, Leh and Kargil.
As it is near to LAC, India can monitor the activity in bordering nations regions including Gilgit and Baltistan.
The travel time from Srinagar to Leh will be reduced from 3 hours to close to 15 minutes.
The tunnel will increase tourist accessibility to the Srinagar-Leh regions by road and promote winter sporting activities.
The first round of tunnel blasting for the construction of the Zojila Tunnel will be officiated by Sh Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The 14.15 km tunnel located at 11,578 feet will serve as a strategic resource to improve transportation in the Srinagar, Leh and Kargil regions during the winter season and enable the Indian Defence Forces to effectively monitor activities in regions including Gilgit and Baltistan. It also enjoys proximity to the Line of Actual Control. The tunnel, when operable, will help significantly reduce travel time from Srinagar to Leh via the Drass and Kargil regions to 15 minutes as opposed to 3 hours. The project will be undertaken on a total budget cost of US$ 606 million.
The Zojila tunnel, which is Asia’s largest tunnel, is expected to increase employment opportunities in the adjoining regions and give an added boost to bilateral trade. On the tourism front, the tunnel will allow future tourists to access the Srinagar-Ladakh region by road and amplify interest in winter sports. Locals can expect to gain round-the-clock access to quality medicines as well as education facilities throughout the years to come.
As part of increasing connectivity within the UTs, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has sanctioned a total of 3,682 roads and 246 bridges. The construction of ten tunnels are also on the anvil so as to improve on-road connectivity for civilians and defence personnel. Eight tunnels to improve roadway connectivity to the Line of Control (LOC) have also been proposed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). These tunnels have also been proposed to improve connectivity to the Depsang Plains. Khardung La, Daulat Beg Oldie, Chung La as well as on the Manali-Leh highway. Enhancing road connectivity in far flung regions and expanding the network to strategic points of international importance can help revitalize the local economy and strengthen security initiatives.