After the longest highway tunnel under Rohtang pass, the Atal Tunnel, India has embarked on another highway tunnel under the Zozila Pass in Jammu and Kashmir. With the completion of the 14.15 km tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zozila pass, Srinagar and Leh will be well connected throughout the year.
Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari initiated the ceremonial blasting for Zozila Tunnel. The tunnel will bring about an all-round economic and socio–cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel has a six year construction period. However, Gadkari said that it will be completed before end of present Government’s tenure with Prime Minister inaugurating the same.
Apart from the Zozila Pass tunnel, seven other tunnel roads are under construction in the Jammu and Kashmir region. The 8450-metre-long twin-tube tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal, 2968-metre-long 6-single tunnels road between Ramban and Banihal, 450-metre-long tunnel between Khilani and Kishtwar are among the tunnels that are constructed in the region.
The project was first conceived in 2005 and the Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by BRO in year 2013. The Project was given to NHIDCL in July 2016 for implementation on EPC mode. The work was awarded to M/s. ITNL (IL&FS). Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone at Leh and commenced the work 2018. The work progressed till July 2019, and thereafter M/s. IL&FS went into financial problems and the project was stuck. The contract was terminated on in 2019. Thereafter Gadkari revised the project. He referred the matter to an expert group, who suggested modalities of project configuration and implementation.
Significance of the Tunnel:
- The construction of Zojila Tunnel will provide all-weather safe connectivity between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions.
- The connectivity of the road is important from the strategic point of view.
- Zozila Tunnel will bring all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions which remains cut-off from rest of the country during winters for about six months.
- The tunnel when completed will be of great importance to the Defence of the country
- Zozila Tunnel project shall bring to fruition, 30 years of overwhelming public demand of Kargil, Drass and Ladakh region.
- The tunnel will make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.
- This would enhance the safety of the travellers crossing Zozila Pass and would reduce the Travel time from more than 3 hours to 15 minutes.
- Generate employment to the locals.
- Emergency lay-bys located at intervals of 750 m staggered on both sides of the carriageway. Sidewalks on both sides of the carriageway. Emergency call niches and hydrant niches situated at intervals of 125 m.
- Manual fire alarm push buttons and portable fire extinguishers at the disposal of all drivers.
- Telephones to be installed at the emergency call niches.
- Fire Hydrants and Hydrant Niches, Fire Extinguishers.
- Tunnel Lighting Systems Entrance lighting (in the accommodation sections at both ends of the tunnel)
- Interior lighting Lay-bys lighting
- Video Surveillance system.
- Automatic Fire Detection and suppression System in the tunnel
- Linear heat detection systems shall be connected the SCADA system through its own control system
- Emergency Telephone Niches
- Emergency call niches shall be located, according to the EU standard, in the tunnel at intervals of less than 125 m each to other in the tunnel and in all lay-bys.
- Traffic control system with a central control room.