Gadkari to review 2 crucial tunnels in J&K, to drive through one of them

Gadkari


Sonmarg (J&K), Sep 27 : Minister of Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will review construction work of two strategically important tunnels -- Z-Morh and Zojila -- in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, to expedite the pending work and also to drive through one of them which is almost complete. These tunnels will help Indian Army troops deployed at far flung outposts at borders with China in Ladakh region to get logistics support without hurdle as during winters roads connecting Srinagar to Ladakh are totally cut off due to snow and avalanches. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha who also ensured proper coordination between various agencies working simultaneously on this project will also review the progress along with Gadkari. It would be the first ride into the tunnel. Both the tunnels are the strategic link connecting the Leh-ladakh region to Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and with the rest of India. This Silk Route is most crucial for defence and economic activities of the region. Z-Morh tunnel is being constructed for the cost of Rs 2,300 crore and Zojila Tunnel at the cost of Rs 4,600 crore. N-Morh tunnel is six and half kilometres long while it also have two escape tunnels for any calamity. It has also 5.5 km approach road. Zojila tunnel is 13.5 km long and has 18.5 km approach road which can withstand avalanches. "The tunnel is to look after the requirement of the Army to support troops deployed in Ladakh. It will also support local villagers get trapped due to avalanches or heavy snow. It will also support the tourism in the region, opening various places which during winters were totally cut off," said Brigadier (retd) G.S. Kambo, the Executive Director of National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation, the nodal agency looking after the project. He said that the region however does not have an all-weather connectivity, especially to Leh, the capital of the Union Territory of Ladakh. This has heavily hit the transport sector, thereby impacting the entire economy of the region. Presently, the road from Srinagar to Leh, is not open all year round, as it is not suitable for vehicular movement. Connectivity is limited to only five months in a year owing to extreme snowfall during winters. The existing Srinagar-Ladakh highway is closed from mid-November to April, literally cutting off this entire region from the rest of the world. This is posing a big hurdle for the movement of the Army and military vehicles. The alternative routes are long-winding and time consuming, resulting in huge expenditures. Moreover, these alternative routes are closer to the lndo-China and lndo-Pakistan borders. Therefore a strategic alternative was the need of the hour. "This is where the tunnel project comes in," said Brigadier (retd) G.S. Kambo adding that both the projects would be completed by next year. /IANS




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