Govt approves Rs 2,717 cr for Srinagar-Leh tunnel

Govt approves Rs 2,717 cr for Srinagar-Leh tunnel

14 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: The Government today approved construction of a tunnel at Z-Morh in Jammu & Kashmir at a cost of Rs 2,717 crore to provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh. The decision to give nod to 6.5 km long tunnel was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) at its meeting here. The tunnel will be built on build, operate and transfer (annuity) basis. Ladakh at present remains cut off from the mainland for six to seven months during winter due to heavy snow fall on Jammu-Srinagar-Zozila-Kargil-Leh and Manali-Sarchu-Leh routes that connect Leh to the mainland. 'The CCI today approved the implementation of the construction of the 6.50 kms long two lane bi-directional tunnel on a new alignment in between Gagangir and Sonamarg, along the existing NH-1 at Z- Morh... For all weather connectivity from Srinagar to Leh on NH-1 (old NH -1D) in Jammu and Kashmir,' an official statement said. The stretch between Srinagar and Leh would not only be important for the strategic interests of the Indian Army, but also for the survival of people of Ladakh and their socio-economic development, the statement said. 'The total capital cost of the project will Rs 2,716.90 crore, out of which approximately, Rs 36.48 crore will be for land acquisition, rehabilitation, resettlement and pre-construction,' the statement added. The project is aimed at improving infrastructure in the State, the statement said. It will also increase the employment potential for local labourers and boost the industrial growth and economic activities, with better commuting facilities in villages, towns and semi-urban and urban areas, it added. Earlier Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee in its meeting in July had given its nod to the project. 'This project will expedite the improvement of infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, and will also facilitate all weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh. Besides enhancing the safety of road users, it will also increase the employment potential to local labourers for project activities and development of industry in the region. This will boost the industrial growth and local economic activities, with better commuting facilities in villages, towns and urban-semi urban areas, falling in, or situated close to the project highway’’, the statement said. Leh is connected to the mainland via Jammu-Srinagar-Zozila-Kargil-Leh and Manali-Sarchu-Leh route. This is the only life line, not only for the strategic interests of the Indian Army, but also for the survival of the people of Ladakh and their socio-economic development. Both these routes remain completely cut off for six to seven months during winter (November to May),due to heavy snow fall and avalanche prone areas, on both sides along both routes. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is responsible for development and maintenance of Jammu – Srinagar – Zozila –Kargil-Leh stretch of National Highway 1. The implementing agency for this NH is Border Roads Organisation. Construction of the 6.5 kms long two lane bi-directional tunnel, with parallel 6.5 kms long escape tunnel on the new alignment in between Gangagir and Sonamarg along the existing NH 1 at Z-Morh between kms. 69.5 to 81.3 will facilitate the establishment of all weather connectivity in the area, the statement said. Meanwhile, Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir when contacted told EXCELSIOR that the two strategic tunnels - Z-Morh and Zojila tunnel were aimed at giving all weather connectivity to Ladakh region. 'At present, the administration has to maintain stock for nearly 14 months for the populace of Leh and Kargil district as they have little connectivity in the rest of year. At times, even helicopter sorties have to be conducted to maintain quantity of required material in the twin districts', he said. Elaborating further, Mr Samoon said that the project was also important strategically due to its location. 'In the first phase the Z-Morh tunnel is likely to be completed and subsequently the Zojila tunnel shall be taken up to provide all weather connectivity to Leh. The area is also strategically important as it provides also connectivity to troops guarding the border'. 'Further, tunnel will also give a boost to overall development of Ladakh region', he added.