The first part of a highway tunnel from Sonamarg to Leh is being realised as of now. A connecting tunnel from Z Morh in the NH 1 to Zojila tunnel will be constructed in Zojila ghats especially in between Sonamarg and Kargil, said Gurjeet Singh Kambo, executive director, NHIDCL
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For the first time, Sonmarg this December will be open, selectively though, for traffic even in winters as the first phase of connecting the strategic Leh-Laddakh region to Srinagar and with the rest of India is being established.
The road from Srinagar (J&K) to Leh in the region of Ladakh is not open the full length of a year and not suitable for vehicles movement and connectivity limited only for six months in a year. This road from Srinagar to Ladakh is closed six months a year especially in winter time due to the extreme snowfall.
"The first part of a highway tunnel from Sonamarg to Leh (Ladakh) is being realised as of now. A connecting tunnel from Z-Morh in the National Highway-1 to Zojila tunnel will be constructed in Zojila ghats especially in between Sonamarg and Kargil," said Gurjeet Singh Kambo, Executive director, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL), adding that this Silk route is most crucial in strategy for Defence and as well as for Economy for this region.
"This is a key, strategic Zojila project that will contribute to the integrated development of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh regions," he said.
Infrastructure major, Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd. (MEIL), is constructing the tunnel project ‘Zojila’ in Himalayas in the hard terrain conditions in EPC mode.
The length of the tunnel is 14.15 km, which is India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest Bi-directional tunnel. Several bridges are being constructed in this route and the works are going at a brisk pace.
"MEIL is constructing this tunnel to serve the transport sector in Jammu & Kashmir – Ladakh regions, and it will provide all weather connectivity to strategically important area Leh," said the company.
The tunnel is located 11,578 feet high from sea level as this is very complicated hilly terrain and contains heavy ice storms. Stagnated ice layers remain eight months a year, therefore it is difficult to execute the works here.
GoI called for tenders and MEIL stood in the first place by quoting the lowest price in the tender process, which was conducted by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL). The entire work is divided into two divisions in a 33 Km span.
The first division consists of the development of a highway length of 18.5 km. It contains two tunnels the first one is 435 meters and second is 1950 meters. The second division has to construct the Zojila tunnel of 14.15 km into a two lane highway (9.5 meters width and 7.57 meters height) in Horseshoe shape. An advanced technology with New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) is being used in this work and it is the first of its kind in the country.
"Once this tunnel completes, travelling between Ladakh and Srinagar can be available throughout the year. The present travelling time between these cities is 3:30 hours and after the tunnel it is 15 minutes. This new route connects Srinagar and Leh throughout the year and it is helpful to integration of financial, socio-economics in all the areas of J&K," said MEIL.