Zoji La tunnel to be operational by 2026

Zoji La, Asia's longest high-altitude tunnel, to be operational by 2026

Zoji La, the high-mountain pass of blizzards is located at a height of 11,500 feet and remains covered under snow for five to six winter months

Anurag Singh Thakur visits Zoji La. Credit: Twitter/@dcganderbal

Asia’s longest bi-directional high-altitude tunnel under the treacherous Zoji La will be operational by 2026, giving year-round access to the icy heights of Ladakh from Jammu & Kashmir.

The 14.15-km-long tunnel under the Himalayan mountain ranges is of strategic importance as it would help speedier deployment of the armed forces along the boundaries India shares with Pakistan and China in Ladakh.

Zoji La, the high-mountain pass of blizzards is located at a height of 11,500 feet and remains covered under snow for five to six winter months, cutting off road access to the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Even post-winters, Zoji La has 20-feet-high snow walls that melt slowly as the temperature rises, causing road blocks and traffic jams, Brig G S Kambo (retd), Executive Director, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation told reporters here.

Kambo said work was progressing at a brisk pace on the Rs 4,600-crore project to build the strategically important tunnel which will be complete before 2026.

The project, awarded in 2012, had run into trouble as the company that was executing it – IL&FS – went bankrupt. The government called for fresh tenders following which the project was awarded to Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd in October last year.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari is scheduled to review the progress of the project on Tuesday.

Earlier, Gadkari laid the foundation stone for four highway projects in Kashmir valley. The 121-km projects will cost Rs 3,612 crores.

He also inaugurated the Baramulla-Gulmarg and Vailoo-Donipawa worth Rs 85 crore and Rs 158 crore respectively.

The minister also inaugurated the work of Donipawa-Ashajipra that connects with Anantnag district at a cost of Rs 57 crore. The four-lane 42 km-long ring road in Srinagar will cost Rs 2948.72 crore.

The new projects will promote tourism in the valley and also help people to visit rural areas without touching Srinagar.

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