PM to launch works on Zojilla Tunnel, ring roads
Srinagar, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is arriving on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir Saturday and will inaugurate work on prestigious Zojilla Tunnel that will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and the Valley. He will also lay foundation stones for two road projects in Kashmir and Jammu.
The prime minister is also expected to dedicate to the nation the 330-MW Kishenganga Power Project constructed in Gurez area of Kashmir.
“The prime minister will attend the commencement of work on Zojila Tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh national highway at an event in Jive-tsal in Leh tomorrow,” an official spokesman said.
Modi will also lay foundation stone for the Srinagar Ring Road and Jammu Ring Road at separate events at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) Srinagar and at the General Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu. Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will also be present at the events.
The 14-kilometre long Zojila Tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel.
Earlier this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the prime minister, had approved the construction, operation and maintenance of this 2-lane bi-directional tunnel with parallel escape (Egress) tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of the national highway at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore.
The construction of this tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
This route remains snow-bound for a large part of the year, and is ravaged by frequent avalanches. As a result, road connectivity to places in the Ladakh region stands disrupted for long periods, preventing even essential supplies from reaching people, shutting down businesses, affecting healthcare and education.
The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes, besides making the drive much safer and convenient.
The construction of the tunnel is expected to bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions. In addition to direct jobs generated during construction, it will also lead to massive indirect and spinoff jobs due to acceleration of economic growth.
The government is committed to development of manpower skilled for tunnelling jobs in Jammu and Kashmir. The project has strategic and socio-economic importance, and will be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said.
“The Zojila tunnel has been planned as a smart tunnel. It will have latest safety features like fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, over height vehicle detection, tunnel radio system, etc,” the spokesman said. It will have pedestrian cross passages at every 250 metres and motorable cross passages and lay-bys at every 750 metres, he said, adding emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets will be installed at every 125 metres.
The Ring Roads in Srinagar and Jammu are aimed at reducing traffic congestion in these cities and making road travel safer, faster, more convenient and more environment friendly, the spokesman said.
The 42.1-Km, four-lane Srinagar Ring Road will link Galandar in West Srinagar to Sumbal in Bandipora district, he said.
Being built at a cost of Rs 1,860 crore, this road will provide a new route from Srinagar to Kargil and Leh, and reduce travel time. There will be a major bridge, three flyovers, 23 tunnels and two via-ducts on this route, he said.
The 58.25-km, four-lane Jammu Ring Road, being built at a cost of Rs 2023.87 crore, will link Jagati (western Jammu ) to Raya Morh. There will be eight large bridges, six flyovers, two tunnels and four via ducts on this route, the spokesman said.
Red alert sounded across J&K
Srinagar/Jammu, May 18: Government forces in Jammu and Kashmir were put on high alert on Friday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the state on Saturday.
All entry and exit points into Srinagar and Jammu have been sealed by police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who allowed vehicles to enter the cities only after thorough checking and frisking of the occupants.
Makeshift barricades and mobile bunkers have been put up to regulate traffic to ensure that no unauthorized movement is allowed during the visit.
Top officials said peripheral security to the Prime Minister’s visit was being provided by the Army.
Traffic jams were seen on Friday at some places both in Srinagar and Jammu cities as traffic moved at snail’s pace due to multiple checkpoints.
Modi will tour all the three regions of the state during his visit.
He will inaugurate the 330 MW Kishenganga hydroelectric power project in Bandipora district in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday.
He will lay the foundation of the Zojila tunnel in Drass area of Kargil district. After completion, the tunnel would provide all-weather connectivity between the Valley and Ladakh region that otherwise remains cut off during the winter months.
Modi will also attend the 100th birth anniversary of revered Ladakhi spiritual leader, Kushak Bakula, in Leh town.
The Prime Minister will address the convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in Jammu on Sunday before returning to New Delhi.
Modi’s visit to the troubled state come two days after his government announced a ceasefire against militants to provide for a peaceful environment during the holy month of Ramadan.