The Defence Ministry has approved a proposal for keeping the Srinagar-Kargil highway open during winters as well. The UT administration of Ladakh has issued directions to the R&B department in this regard.
“The proposal of the Ladakh Rescue Centre for keeping open Zojila (30 kilometres in total) has got approval of the Ministry of Defence. You are requested to give appropriate direction to the Mechanical Division Kargil, and place adequate funds at their disposal facilitating them to conduct the work in coordination with Project Beacon and Vijayak this season itself,” reads the communication.
Keeping Zojila Pass open during winter months is a big task for the administration as according to official data this season the precipitation level has been the highest since 1986 in this area.
The Union Government has already approved Zojila tunnel to be funded under Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package, however since its announcement in 2015 there is no progress on the project.
According to officials, due to the delay, the project is facing cost escalation of Rs 1600 crore.
The project cost for the 14.2 km tunnel was estimated at Rs 6800 crore. After the Government of India scrapped an earlier contract awarded to the crisis-hit Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), the cost has surged to Rs 8,400 crore.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has engaged the NIHDCL, a fully-owned subsidiary of the union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), for the bidding process of the tunnel.