In a major breakthrough, excavation of 472 metres of tunnel-1 of Zojila project has been completed.
A dedicated team deployed to execute the challenging task in a difficult region, has achieved the breakthrough in the all-weather Zojila Tunnel construction in the Jammu Kashmir-Ladakh region.
The daylight streamed into tube-2 of Tunnel-1 on Monday.
It was a challenging task completed before schedule, said a senior official involved in the project and added, "water was constantly seeping in the stretch making it very difficult for excavation."
Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, a leading infrastructure company in India, was awarded the all-weather connectivity project connecting Kashmir valley to Ladakh on October 1, 2020, on EPC Mode.
Considered one of India's most strategically critical project, Zojila is a 14.15km long tunnel located at an altitude of about 3,000 metres, situated under the Zojila Pass.
Defence analysts view it as vital to India's defence, as military activities increase at the borders in the Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan regions. The project will allow India year-round access to Ladakh. Ladakh shares borders with Pakistan and China and often depends on air supplies.
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. The roadway is being constructed at one of the most dangerous motorable stretches in the world.
The total length of the project is 32.78 kilometres and is divided into two parts.
Part I of the project comprises of a 18 Km approach road that connects Sonamarg and Taltal, having major bridges and twin tunnels. It begins at Sitkari village (Sonamarg) and ends at Western Portal of Zojila Tunnel near Baltal Camp. It will provide all-weather connectivity from Srinagar to Kargil- Leh which is strategically very important for national security. The road is expected to be complete by end of 2023.
14.15km long tunnel is the other component of the project. Tunnel 1 has two tubes with the length of 472 and 448 meters respectively.
The official said tube 1 was daylighted on the auspicious occasion of Diwali on November 4 and the 2nd tube daylighted on Monday (Nov 22) afternoon.
The project work began by the construction company in May 2021, after the construction of access roads. Tunnelling through the Himalayas is always a daunting task, but MEIL has bored both tunnels with the highest standard of safety, quality, and speed within a time schedule.
Next, twin tubes having a length of 2 km each where work is in full swing shall achieve daylighting in the month of April 2022.
Works at Zojila Main Tunnel, which is 13.3 Km long, is also in full swing.
Advance construction of 600 meters from Ladakh and 300 metres advance from Kashmir's side has been completed.
According to the MEIL, the project is on schedule and slated to be completed by September 2026.
The project is being constructed at the cost of ₹6,800 crore. It includes the cost of land, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as the maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years.
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