Zojila tunnel and connectivity to Ladakh
14th Apr, 2023
Recently, the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister had inspected the under-construction Zojila tunnel, which will establish all-weather connectivity between the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
- It claims to be Asia’s longest tunnel and will prove significant for regions’ development.
- Currently, the commute between Srinagar and Leh, takes over 10 hours on a good day and passes through extremely inhospitable terrain.
- The Zojila Pass is a high mountain pass through which one has to travel in order to make the journey.
- During harsh winters, this route is closed due to fears of avalanches, landslides and slippery roads, with areas beyond the pass cut off from the rest of the country for at least five months.
- With the Zojila pass shut, air connectivity is the only option, and airfares can skyrocket to over Rs.40, 000 during peak winter months.
Zojila Tunnel Construction:
- The Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel, and is expected to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel, boasting a length of 14.15 km.
- A connecting tunnel from Z-Morh on NH1 to the Zojila tunnel will be built in the Zojila Ghats between Sonmarg and Kargil.
- This involves the development and expansion of the 18.475-km highway between Z-Morh to Zojila.
- A 3-km stretch will be expanded; the rest will be newly developed.
- The highway will have two twin-tube tunnels, five bridges, and two snow galleries.
- The work on the entire 33-km span is spread between two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir; and Ladakh.
- The tunnel is being built at a cost of more than 4, 600 crore. It is expected to be completed by December 2023.
The Zojila Pass:
- Zojila Pass connects Srinagar and Leh.
- Located in the Kargil district of Ladakh, it connects the Union Territories of Ladakh and Kashmir.
- Also known as the “Mountain Pass of Blizzards”, it runs at an altitude of 3,528 meters.
- It lies in the Zaskar range of Greater Himalayas.
- The pass connects the Kashmir Valley to its west with the Dras and Suru valleys to its northeast and the Indus valley further east.
- The upcoming Zojila tunnel will provide perennial connectivity between Ladakh and the rest of the country.
- The pass is critical for the Indian Armed Forces' operational preparedness in the region especially amid China’s border disputes.