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Gadkari reviews construction work of Zojila, Z-Morh tunnels on Srinagar-Leh highway

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Extensive road network in the Himalayan region will help boost the tourism sector

Sonamarg: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday reviewed the construction work of the strategically important Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels here on the Srinagar-Leh highway.

Speaking with reporters at the Z-Morh tunnel site, Gadkari said his ministry is also building 20 tunnels of a total length of 32 km in Jammu and Kashmir and 11 tunnels of a total length of 20 km in Ladakh.

The cost of building these 31 tunnels in Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh will be around Rs 1.4 lakh crore, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said.

Gadkari claimed that in the past two years, the Modi government has been able to do the same amount of work related to road projects in Jammu and Kashmir that earlier took 50 years.

He said that after the completion of the Z-Morh tunnel, the local tourism economy will get a boost.

The Z-Morh tunnel between Gagangir and Sonmarg will provide connectivity in all weather conditions between Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and Kargil in Ladakh.

Gadkari noted that tourism is the sector where 49 percent of capital expenditure happens on the employment generation.

Asked whether the speed of construction work of the Z-Morh tunnel increased after Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh became Union territories, Gadkari said, “These issues are for you to evaluate (ye sab baaten apke adhyan aur chintan ke liye hai).”

The project cost of the Z-Morh tunnel is Rs 2,300 crore.

The 6.5-km-long Z-Morh tunnel project is under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

For the Z-Morh tunnel, there is a five-km approach road and the tunnel is 6.5-km long and is bi-directional. It also has an escape tunnel for emergencies.

He said that Zojila tunnel project will provide all-weather connectivity to the Union Territory of Ladakh. He assured that work on the Zojila tunnel is progressing fast and NHIDCL is geared up to continue the work in winter months. He stressed for putting in every effort in place to complete the project well before the scheduled date.

Gadkari expressed his satisfaction on the work progress and said that the Zojila tunnel is of a significant importance to the development and tourism for both UTs of J&K and Ladakh as it will provide round the year connectivity to Ladakh region.

Pertinent to mention that, once completed the Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. Several bridges are being constructed along this route and a connecting tunnel from Z-Morh in the National Highway-1 to Zojila tunnel will be constructed in the Zojila Ghats between Sonamarg and Kargil. The entire work is divided into two divisions in the 33 km span.

Stressing upon the state of art infrastructure in the tunnel projects, he said that appropriate security measures have been kept in place including vertical shafts at three places and adequate security and lighting measures with CCTV, fire alarm and heat detection systems at par with international standards.

He further highlighted various important tunnel, rail and road projects of the country that were completed on priority by the government keeping in mind border security alongside development and said various infrastructure development projects are going on in full swing throughout Jammu and Kashmir.

Important to mention, the project site of Zojila tunnel is located at existing highway (NH-01) starting from Sonamarg (UT of J&K) and ending at Minamarg (UT of Ladakh) at an elevation ranging from 2700m to 3300m, thus making the Zojila Tunnel (13.2 km) the longest tunnel at this elevation in Asia region. The present site location falls into seismic zone IV and all precautionary measures have been provisioned to safeguard the structures provisioned in the project.

Earlier the Minister also reviewed the progress on Tunnel 1 and Tunnel 2 at Nilgrar site and Z-Morh site. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Gen. V.K. Singh, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, P.K Pole, IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, DDC chairperson Ganderbal, Nuzhat Ishfaq, Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna and officers/officials of NHIDCL were present on the occasion, an official press release said.

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