The delay in the execution of two vital road projects has marred the all-weather connectiv1ity to Sonamarg and Ladakh region in Kashmir.
Government of India (GoI) had approved and sanctioned the construction of two vital tunnels on strategic Srinagar-Leh national highway at Shitkari Sonamarg and Zojila for all weather road connectivity.
The strategic 434 Km long Srinagar-Leh highway is the only lifeline for Ladakh and its socio-economic development. However in first phase, the government had approved the construction of a tunnel at Shitkari near health resort Sonamarg to make it all weather destination.
The Sonamarg road remains closed for about five months during winters as the area from Gagengar up to Sonamarg along highway experience heavy snowfall.
Officials said that the 6.5 km long tunnel estimated to cost about Rs 2600 crore is to be constructed near Z-morh at Shitkari Sonamarg and its executing agency is APCO constructions.
Sources said that though first approved way back in 2005, the Z-morh tunnel had remained on the drawing board ever since on account of technical difficulties in implementing the project. Though the completion time period of the Z-morh tunnel is five years, however almost two years have passed and there is no such visible development on the project as it was supposed to.
"The beginning of work on the 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel between Sonamarg and Gagengar had raised the hopes for all-weather connectivity between Sonamarg and rest of the state." Nazir Ahmed, a local said.
"Besides enhancing the safety of the road users, the construction of tunnel will provide employment to the local population. In addition, the improved all-weather road connectivity will boost tourism and local economic activities in villages, towns and other areas falling in or situated close to the project highway," the locals said.
Officials of the construction company said due to the current unrest they lost almost four months of working season. "Normally, we get only 7-8 months of working season here i.e. from April to November," they said, adding that the work is almost closed during winters that is why the construction work was affected.
However, sources said the construction of the Zojila tunnel may get delayed as it is still to go through tendering process.