|ISHTIYAQ AHMAD |
EARLY TIMES REPORT
SRINAGAR, Sept 30: The government has directed concerned authorities to complete the work on Zojila tunnel at the earliest for making all weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh.
Stalled for years, the Zojila tunnel project holds strategic significance as the Zojila Pass is located on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, at an altitude of 11,578 feet and during winters, it remains closed due to heavy snowfall, thereby cutting off Ladakh region from Kashmir.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir P K Pole recently held a meeting where he directed the DC Ganderbal and DC Kargil to ensure speedy forest clearance and completion of land acquisition process on war footing for the construction of Zojila tunnel.
“He directed DC Ganderbal to expedite the matter as DC Kargil issued blasting permission. DC Kargil was directed to solve the land acquisition problems at the east portal of the Zojila tunnel,” minutes of the meeting reads, a copy of which lies with early Times.
The Divisional Commissioner as per the document directed Executive Director NHIDCL to follow the issue at MOD for early acquisition of the defence land and to obtain permission for crossing of vehicles over the military land.
The 14.083 km long Zoji La tunnel is constructed to facilitate all weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh.
The Centre recently said that Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is working on the Zojila tunnel, which is worth around Rs 7,500-Rs 8,000 crore, to connect Ladakh.
The Zojila tunnel, which would be 14.15 km long, is likely to reduce the 3.5 hour drive to just 15 minutes of travel. The strategic tunnel is proposed to include a fully transverse ventilation system, emergency lighting, continuous power supply, traffic logging equipment, CCTV monitoring, tunnel radio system, variable message signs, and overheight vehicle detection.
Besides these features, the proposed plan of the tunnel included the provision of emergency telephones as well as fire-fighting cabinets every 125 metres, pedestrian cross passages every 250 metres, and motorable cross passages as well as lay-bys every 750 metres. The project is expected to give a boost to local businesses as they would get linked to the national market, therefore, leading to an increase in job opportunities at multiple levels.