Ladakh Hails Cabinet's Nod For Zojila Tunnel

Ladakh Hails Cabinet's Nod For Zojila Tunnel

19 October 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Sumit Hakhoo

Srinagar: The Union Cabinet’s approval for the construction of a 15-km tunnel at the 11,578-ft high Zojila pass on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh national highway will be one of the biggest engineering challenges for the country. The tunnel will establish an all-weather road link between the strategic Ladakh region and Srinagar. Though the project will take nearly seven years to complete, people of the Ladakh region had been eagerly waiting for the announcement. They had been demanding an all-weather surface link for decades. Approved by the Centre on Thursday, the project envisages construction of an all-weather road at a cost of Rs 9,090 crore. It will hold an immense strategic value for India in the defence at the Pakistan and China borders. The project is a part of two-tunnels system that include the 6.5-km Z-Morh tunnel, foundation stone of which was laid by by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on October 5, 2012, and the 15-km Zojila tunnel that cuts the formidable Zojila mountains range of the Himalayas. “We welcome the announcement about the Zojila tunnel. When completed, it will end the isolation of the region. We hope the Z-Morh tunnel and Zojila tunnel will be made operational on fast track basis. People here have to face shortage of essential commodities during winters,” said former minister and National Conference leader from Kargil Qamar Ali Akhoon. Work on the Z-Morh point near Sonamarg on the Kashmir-Kargil highway is already underway. The tunnel will be constructed between Gagangir and Sonamarg on the existing national highway. “Movement of men and material will be possible throughout the year once the tunnel is complete. It will also boost tourism and other economic sectors. The region remains cut off from the mainland for six-seven months during winters,” said Thusptan Chewang, former Chief Executive Officer, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. These two routes are important for the Army also, which has to send supplies to the troops stationed at the Siachen glacier.