Finally Zojilla tunnel to see light of day
Rahul Gandhi To Lay Foundation Stone On October 4
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Sep 23: After years of inordinate delay, work on the Zojilla tunnel aimed to provide all season physical connectivity between Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region will begin from next month.
Highly placed official sources said that All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Rahul Gandhi ‘who has been instrumental in getting approval for the tunnel’, has agreed to lay foundation of the tunnel’s first phase at Gagangeer at the famous tourist resort of Sonamarg on October 4.
Construction of the tunnel is aimed at providing all weather connectivity to the Ladakh region as a part of the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP). In the first phase a 6.5 kilometer tunnel will be constructed from Gagangeer on Srinagar-Leh highway to Sonamarg. The estimated cost of the first phase is Rs 2700 crore.
“Rahul Gandhi has agreed to lay foundation stone of the prestigious project aimed to provide all season link with Ladakh region. He (Rahul) has worked hard to get the project approved and wants to see work on it started at the earliest,” a senior official told Greater Kashmir.
Due to heavy snowfall the 420 kilometer Srinagar-Leh highway remains cut-off for nearly six months causing immense hardships to the people of the mountain-locked region.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways approved the construction of 6 km long Zojilla tunnel in April this year.
The first phase of the tunnel at Gagangeer is 6.5 kms long and the second phase of the tunnel will be constructed at Zojilla pass. “We have completed all the formalities including feasibility studies for the first phase of the tunnel and tenders will be floated soon after laying the foundation stone. We have received green signal for the project from the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure,” said Brigadier TPS Rawat, Chief Engineer, Border Roads Organization (BRO), who is heading the project.
Rawat said the earlier plan of the tunnel at Ganangeer did not cover all the avalanche zones. “We got the plan revised and vetted through the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment. The tunnel comprising of approach roads and bridges in the tunnel will be all season,” he added.
Minister of Forest and Environment Mian Altaf in whose Kangan constituency the tunnel will come up said it was a long cherished dream of people of both the regions.
“The tunnel will not only provide all season road link but also pave way for restoring trade links. The tunnel will also provide access to Sonamarg in winter and help us organize international ski and winter sports events,” Altaf said while expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for sanctioning of the ambitious project.
Brigadier Rawat said second phase of the project comprising 13.5 kilometer tunnel at Zojilla pass will be started next year.
“We are finalizing its feasibility reports and hopefully work on it will begin from June next year,” Rawat said.
He, however, maintained that the summer unrest in Kashmir in 2010 led to some delay in construction of the tunnel. “Despite all challenges we worked round the clock for sanctioning of the project. We will leave no stone unturned to accomplish the project in three to four years,” Rawat added.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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