Ganderbal: The 6.5 km long vital Z-Morh Tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh Highway being constructed near Gagangeer area of Sonamarg in Ganderbal district would be inaugurated next month, Union Minister for Roads, Transport, and Highways, Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday.
“We are constructing Asia’s longest tunnel at Zojila on which about 65 to 70 percent work is complete and will be inaugurated next year,” Gadkari said.
The Z-Morh Tunnel is part of a mega project announced by the Centre and first step to ensure all-weather connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh.
Addressing a function by ASSOCHAMS in Delhi, Gadkari said that the twin tunnels coming up on the Srinagar-Leh Highway would ensure all-weather connectivity and minimum travel time between Kashmir and Ladakh.
He said that his ministry was also building at least nine tunnels between Srinagar and Jammu.
“On Srinagar- Jammu highway at least nine tunnels are being constructed out of which 4 to 5 tunnels have been completed,” Gadkari said.
He said that the construction of these tunnels would make the travel safe on the highway and one could reach Jammu from Srinagar in 3-4 hours.
The work on the Z-Morh Tunnel is part of a strategic project and a first step towards ensuring round-the-year connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh.
The Z-Morh Tunnel along with a 5 km approach road is project worth Rs 2300 crore.
It is a bi-direction tunnel along with an escape tunnel for meeting any eventuality.
Apco Infratech Pvt Ltd is developing the Z-Morh Tunnel.
The work the tunnel, which is part of Srinagar-Sonamarg Tunnelway (SST) was halted for two years between 2017 and 2019 due to financial crunch faced by the then main executing agency IL&FS that later abandoned the work.
The government had to invite bids for the second time for the project on June 24, 2019 with a TPC of Rs 2378.76 crore on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) annuity basis. The government later awarded the Z-Morh Tunnel to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway Pvt Ltd to be built at a cost of Rs 2379 crore.
Once completed the Z-Morh Tunnel would provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Sonamarg tourist destination.
Similarly, once completed the Zojila Tunnel would be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. Several bridges are being constructed along this route and a connecting tunnel from Z-Morh in the National Highway-1 to Zojila Tunnel would be constructed in the Zojila Ghats between Sonamarg and Kargil.
The entire work is divided into two divisions in the 33 km span. The Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL), which is executing Zojila Tunnel, a project of national importance that would strengthen both defence and economy, is keen to expedite the project execution and is aiming to complete the project ahead of the 2026 target.