Shri Narendra Modi attended the ceremony marking the start of work on the Zojila Tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway. He also laid the foundation stone for Srinagar Ring Road and Jammu Ring Road at separate events on the same day.
The 14 km long Zojila Tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the INR68bn (£740m) project earlier this year.
The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. The route is currently snow-bound for a large part of the year, and is ravaged by frequent avalanches. As a result, road connections to places in the Laddakh region stand disrupted for long periods, preventing even essential supplies from reaching people and shutting down businesses, affecting healthcare and education. The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes, as well as making the drive much safer.
The route has been planned as a ‘smart tunnel’, with safety features including variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment and over-height vehicle detection. It will have pedestrian cross passages every 250m and vehicle cross passages and lay-bys every 750m. There will be emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets every 125m.
The 42.1km, four-lane Srinagar Ring Road will link Galandar in West Srinagar to Sumbal; the 58.25km, four-lane Jammu Ring Road will run from Jagati in western Jammu to Raya Morh.