New Delhi, Oct 9: The government is hopeful of starting work on the strategic Rs 5,500-crore Zojilla tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir by next year, a major step towards providing all-weather connectivity to people in Ladakh with Srinagar.
"The tunnel at Zojilla pass is of strategic importance. Detailed project report is ready for it and we would begin work on it by next year," Road Transport and Highways Secretary AK Upadhyay told PTI.
The construction of the tunnel is a complicated process and its double the size of the Z-Morh tunnel in Sonamarg, he said adding that the total project cost is Rs 5,500 crore.
Once the 13-km long tunnel across the Zojilla to connect Sonamarg with Drass sector on the Srinagar-Leh national highway, along with the Z-Morh tunnel is completed, it will provide all-weather connectivity to people of Ladakh with Srinagar, he said.
The areas beyond Z-Morh, including Sonamarg and Ladakh region, generally remain cut off from Kashmir for over six months due to heavy snowfall during winter.
Border Roads Organization (BRO) will construct both the tunnels.
The foundation stone of the 6.5 km Z-Morh tunnel between Gagangir and Sonamarg on NH-1 in Srinagar, to be built at a cost of Rs 2,700 crore, was laid by the Road Transport and Highways Minister C P Joshi last month.
The construction of these tunnels will entail an investment of Rs 8,217 crore.
The Road Transport Secretary said work on other two tunnels – between Qazigund -Banihal and Chennani-Nashari – the foundation stone for which were laid earlier, was satisfactory. In one case the progress was 35 per cent while in the case other it was 12 per cent, he said adding that both the tunnels were being built at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore.
On completion, these tunnels will reduce the travel distance between Srinagar and Jammu by 46 km.
Yesterday, Road Transport Minister Joshi had said that while undertaking new projects the government was aiming at connecting remote parts of the country with the mainstream and be a partner in their development process.