The work on the vital Z-Morh tunnel in Ganderbal district has gathered pace since July after remaining suspended for more than a year, officials said.
The 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel being constructed on Srinagar-Leh highway near Gagengar area of Sonamarg is part of a mega project announced by the government of India. It marks the first step towards ensuring all-weather connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh.
A senior official of the National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL), said that the work on the tunnel has been expedited. “We have been able to achieve the set monthly targets so far.”
Pertinently, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir while taking a review of the progress of the work on the project had said that though the deadline for it was December 2023, however, a bonus shall be provided to the concerned agency if the project was completed before deadline.
Meanwhile, the local unemployed youth, skilled as well as unskilled, have sought job opportunities in the project.
According to the people here, the project had given hope to the local unemployed youth to get some job opportunities. “However, much to their disappointment only a small number of people have been engaged by the construction company,” they said.
Senior National Conference leader and former MLA Kangan, Mian Altaf Ahmed, said when the tunnel was sanctioned by the government, the locals mostly poor who are dependent on the tourism activities for their livelihood, had got some hope.
“When the project was sanctioned, both the construction company and the contractor firm had been asked to ensure that the local unemployed youth get preference in job opportunities,” the NC leader, former forest and environment minister, said.
He said that unfortunately the tunnel faced many issues and thus the work remained suspended for almost a year. “However, now when the work has resumed, the contractor should engage the local unemployed youth.”
Altaf said that by the completion of this tunnel the Sonamarg will remain open round the year for tourism activities.
Officials of APCO Construction Company, which is the contractor for Z Morh tunnel said that almost 60 per cent of the manpower including labourers and other technical staff has been engaged from Jammu and Kashmir.
An official of the company said that the workers were engaged as per the requirements. He assured that whenever required the local deserving unemployed youth will be engaged.