Infrastructure

Zoji La Tunnel: Work On Asia's Longest Road Tunnel Set To Be Completed By December 2030

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jul 28, 2023, 03:57 PM | Updated 03:57 PM IST

Nitin Gadkari with officials outside Zoji La tunnel.
Nitin Gadkari with officials outside Zoji La tunnel.
  • This tunnel aims to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh on National Highway-1.
  • Currently, it takes approximately 3-4 hours to cross Zoji La, but once the tunnel is finished, this travel time will be significantly reduced to just 15 minutes.
  • The 14-kilometre-long Zoji La Tunnel, which connects Kashmir with Ladakh is expected to be completed by December 2030.

    Zoji La tunnel is located at an altitude of about 3,000 metre, situated under the Zoji La Pass.

    The tunnel will connect Srinagar and Leh through Dras and Kargil. The passage will begin at Sonmarg in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and terminate at Minamarg, in Ladakh.

    Captain IK Singh, the office in charge of the Border Roads Organisation, stated that the tunnel is designed as a horseshoe-shaped shaft single tube and a two-lane road tunnel.

    Originally planned for completion in December 2026, the construction company has now set a new date for the completion of the tunnel — December 2030.

    This revised timeline reflects the challenges and complexities involved in such a large-scale infrastructure project.

    The completion of the Zoji La tunnel will bring numerous advantages. Currently, it takes approximately 3-4 hours to cross Zoji La, but once the tunnel is finished, this travel time will be significantly reduced to just 15 minutes.

    This tunnel aims to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh on National Highway-1, ensuring safe transportation between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil, and Leh regions.

    Zoji La Tunnel
    Zoji La Tunnel
    Alighment map of Zojila Tunnel (Morth)
    Alighment map of Zojila Tunnel (Morth)

    The project incorporates a state-of-the-art smart tunnel (SCADA) system, constructed using the advanced Austrian tunnelling method.

    This system is equipped with various facilities such as CCTV surveillance, radio control, uninterrupted power supply, and ventilation. These features enhance the safety and efficiency of the tunnel, ensuring a smooth and secure travel experience.

    Hyderabad-based company Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited is currently working on the Zoji La Tunnel project.

    In May 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the Zoji La Tunnel project by laying its foundation stone. This significant step marked the beginning of the construction process, expediting the realisation of a reliable and efficient transportation link between Srinagar and Leh.

    "With the construction of this tunnel, tourism will increase by 2-3 times, and employment opportunities will also grow in Jammu and Kashmir," said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways as quoted by news agency ANI.

    (Morth)
    (Morth)

    Strategic Significance

    As India and China's troops remain in a stand-off in Ladakh since the Galwan incident last year, India has decided to increase the pace of their work and match China's build-up along the Line of Actual Control in the region.

    Sonamarg is a crucial route for troops to reach Ladakh, however, the region's Zojila Pass becomes risky due to unpredictable avalanches and landslides, making it impassable for more than three months in winter.

    In order to ensure uninterrupted movement of goods and armed forces in emergencies, the construction of a tunnel is necessary, providing a year-round solution.

    The Zojila Pass, located between Srinagar and Leh, is a crucial route for military movement, particularly during the winter season. The completion of the tunnel will greatly alleviate the challenges faced during this period, providing a reliable and accessible passage for military operations, reports Economic Times.

    From a military and security perspective, the completion of the tunnel will greatly facilitate the movement of military personnel.

    This holds great significance for India's security and defence efforts, as it provides a more efficient and secure route for military operations.

    V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.


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