New Delhi/Srinagar: Mountainous regions are dotted with tough geographical terrain where quality tunnels and roads are a boon. Lofty mountains, slippery peaks, ridges, gorges, and ravines are the definition of J&K and Ladakh, which separate it from the rest of the country during the winter months.
However, with the recent developments, the road connectivity across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh regions has mitigated the threat of accidents, and for the first time allowed speedy, smooth travel. These road projects are revolutionising connectivity and bringing economic prosperity to the region.
The work on the National Highways and tunnels as announced by the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways is translating into reality at a fast pace. Tunnels will be built at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore and other road transport work undertaken at Rs one lakh crore in 2022-23, which would have a catalytic effect on employment opportunities.
The next two years will be witnessing the development of the neglected faraway areas in the Union Territories. Twenty five massive projects including National Highways in Jammu region, at a cost of Rs 11,800 crore and covering 259 kilometres would accelerate development and cultural connect with the rest of India. In 2014 the proposed road projects stood at 1,695 kilometres, but the Centre has challenged itself to 2,664 kilometres. The transport ministry is also prioritizing eco-friendly measures and focusing on shifting to green hydrogen than relying on conventional fuel.
The quality standards of the construction are unmistakably at par with European road construction. The high setting-up cost will minimize the repair needs in the future, saving funds and building reliance of the population. The road construction is also increasing the confidence of the hilly inhabitants who rarely interacted with civilization.
Another proposed tunnel at "Peer Ki Gali" to be built on the Mughal Road would deliver "motorable" value especially during the winter months and act as an alternative to the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway which usually gets blocked due to heavy rain and snowfall. This road is also gifted with great tourism potential.
The transport ministry has displayed a proactive attitude and has created a record for the fastest road construction work in the country.
Projects worth Rs 3,900 crore including part of the Delhi-Katra Expressway, Akhnoor-Poonch National Highway, and a major highway in Ladakh are the latest additions to the road projects. The Road Transport and National Highways Ministry is also in the process of approving four more National Highways in Jammu region. This exciting project includes the border road of the Old Jammu-Sialkot route which will boost tourism in Suchetgarh and help in the swift movement of the Armed Forces. One of the four highways will begin at the Tawi Bridge and will pass through Jammu Airport, Miran Sahib, RS Pura, and end at the Indo-Pak border known as the Old Jammu-Sialkot road.
Kathua district will also witness inter-road connectivity linking Hiranagar-Billawar-Basohli tehsils. Hiranagar tehsil is located near the International Border. The Government is also focused to promote Billawar, Basohli and Bani as tourist destinations.
The work on the Zojila tunnel taken up by MEIL (Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited) is moving at lightning speed. Originally the estimated time for completion was set as 2026 which stands revised to December 2023 thereby achieving the feat in record minimum time. Zojila Tunnel will end all qualms of connectivity and uplift the socio-economic condition of the region. It will bargain the distance between Srinagar and Ladakh to be reduced from 40 kilometres to 13 kilometres! The Qazigund-Banihal and the Nashri Tunnels along with the Z-Morh Tunnel will open doors for tourists the year round.