Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday said that over 35 percent of the work on Asia's longest Zojila tunnel has been completed. Interacting with media persons after inspection work on the tunnel, Gadkari said that the Zojila tunnel will be historic in India's history and the longest one in Asia given its length. He said a part of the tunnel will shortly be inaugurated while the total estimated cost of the tunnel is Rs 7000 crore.

He said that the Zojila tunnel will be historic in India. "This tunnel will fulfill the dream of Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This tunnel is the longest one in Asia given its length of 13.14 km," Gadkari said,

Nitin Gadkari

He said earlier, the estimated cost of the tunnel was Rs 12,000 crore and after roping in national and international experts, its cost was brought down by Rs 5,000 crore. "In winters, working conditions are so tough here as people have to work under minus 26 degrees temperature. Earlier, this tunnel was tendered four times and on the fifth go, work was started," said Gadkari, who was accompanied by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha.

Nitin Gadkari

Gadkari along with MPs inspects work on tunnel

Nitin Gadkari today inspected Zojila Tunnel, Asia's longest tunnel, to establish all-weather connectivity for Ladakh and an important project implemented in Jammu and Kashmir with the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha and members of Parliament of Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Road Transport and Highways.

Nineteen tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore. Under this, the construction of 13.14 km long tunnel and approach road at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore is in progress in Zojila. It is a 7.57 m high horseshoe-shaped single-tube, 2-lane tunnel, which will pass under the Zojila Pass in the Himalayas between Ganderbal in Kashmir and Drass town in the Kargil district of Ladakh.

The project includes a Smart Tunnel (SCADA) system, which has been constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method. It is equipped with facilities like CCTV, radio control, uninterrupted power supply, ventilation. The use of modern technology in this project has saved the Government of India more than Rs 5,000 crore.

Importance of Zojila Tunnel

Under the Zojila Tunnel project, the main Zojila tunnel of 13,153 meters with 4 culverts of total length of 810 meters, 4 Nilgrar tunnels of total length of 4,821 meters, 8 cut and covers of total length of 2,350 meters and three 500 meters, 391 meters and 220 meters of vertical ventilation shaft are proposed. So far 28% work on Zojila Tunnel has been completed.

With the construction of this tunnel, there will be all-weather connectivity for Ladakh. Currently, the average travel time to cross the Zojila Pass sometimes takes three hours, after the completion of this tunnel the travel time will come down to 20 minutes. The reduction in travel time will ultimately result in fuel savings.

The terrain near Zojila Pass is extremely inhospitable, with many fatal accidents taking place here every year. After the completion of Zojila Tunnel, the chances of accidents will be zero. This tunnel will provide year-round connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which will be extremely important for the development of Ladakh, promotion of tourism, free movement of local goods and the movement of Indian armed forces in case of emergency.