Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today lay the foundation stone of the Zojila tunnel, Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel being built to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, Times of India has reported.
The tunnel, to be constructed at the cost of Rs 6,809 crore, will be 14.2-km long. The government had granted the approval for the project in January 2018.
Ladakh is currently connected to the rest of the country by two roads, one that connects it to Kashmir through the Zoji La pass and the other that connects it to Manali through the Rohtang Pass. Both these roads, however, provide fragile connectivity and remain shut due to snowfall during winters.
“Strategically India stands to gain militarily in its overall capability to secure the Lima (Leh) sector 365 days of the year, besides optimally enhancing the administration and logistics for the civil administration of Ladakh,” Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired lieutenant general who headed the Srinagar-based 15-Corps, had said in January.
“The provision of all-weather connectivity between Lima (Leh) sector and the rest of India... will enable an optimization of resources and spare crucial air transport effort for other sectors,” Hasnain added.
According to experts, the construction of the tunnel will make the movement of supplies, troops and heavy equipment to Ladakh easier.
The tunnel will be built by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation and is expected to be completed in seven years.
During his one day visit to Kashmir, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate the 330 Megawatt Kishanganga Hydropower project.
The project, completed despite Pakistan’s objection, is the first run of the river scheme that involves the inter-basin transfer of water. Water from Kishanganga river in the Gurez valley will be transferred to Bonar Nallah in Bandipora using a 23.65-km-long tunnel dug across mountains. Pakistan had objected to the construction of the dam, which it claimed will affect the flow of water into its territory.
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