Gadkari For Completion Of Zojila Pass Tunnel Before 2024

Gadkari For Completion Of Zojila Pass Tunnel Before 2024Nitin Gadkari with officials outside Zojila tunnel
Snapshot
  • The Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, visited Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels a day after laying the foundation stones for four national highway projects worth Rs 3,612 crore in J&K, including the commencement of the Srinagar Ring road project.

Ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has asked the private company constructing Asia’s longest road tunnel at Zojila Pass in Jammu and Kashmir to complete it by December 2023.

Gadkari said the work on the projects is challenging and difficult, but with the strong political will of the government, it will be completed in time.

The Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, visited Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels a day after laying the foundation stones for four national highway projects worth Rs 3,612 crore in J&K, including the commencement of the Srinagar Ring road project.

He carried out a detailed examination of the construction work of the Zojila tunnel and Z-Morh tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also announced that his ministry targets to complete 31 tunnels with a cumulative length of 52 km in J&K and Ladakh in the next two years.

The minister also said that once the Delhi-Katra Expressway gets completed, people can travel from the national capital to Srinagar in 8-10 hours and the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar will reduce to three hours compared to eight hours now.

He claimed that after the completion of the expressway, one can reach Srinagar taking a link highway from Domel in Jammu, which will cut the travel time.

Making Zojila tunnel project as an election pitch, after reviewing the progress, Gadkari said in a lighter vein, “The official target for Zojila tunnel is 2026, but seeing the progress I can say that the project can be completed by December 2023. This is the target I have set because we will have elections in 2024.”

The 14.4 km Zojila tunnel is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country and the biggest in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh. Gadkari said there is a proposal to build an escape tunnel along the under-construction project and his ministry will soon take a call.

This may cost another Rs 4,000 crore. The Minister also said J&K and Ladakh will get 31 tunnels with a cumulative length of 52 km with an investment of Rs 1.4 lakh crore in the next couple of years.

While 20 tunnels will be completed with a cumulative length of 32 km in Jammu and Kashmir, another 11 will be built with a total length of 20 km in Ladakh.

“The completion of tunnels at Z-Morh and Zojila will provide all-weather connectivity from Srinagar to Leh. This will become the ‘highway to growth for socio-economic development’ in the region.

He said Sonmarg will see a spurt in the number of hotels and facilities for adventure sports during the winters.

“Kashmir is no less than heaven on earth. When we had gone to Switzerland, someone asked whether we ever visited Srinagar. He said, J&K is many times better than Switzerland.”

Gadkari also directed the ministry-owned NHIDCL to grow flowers of local varieties along the NH from Z-Morh to Zojila.

“This is such a beautiful stretch. I have issued instructions today to do so by involving locals so that when driving on this stretch, they get the feeling of entering the valley of flowers. It will also generate employment as we can involve the local nurseries,” he said.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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