Zojila and Z-Morh -- the two strategic tunnels on the Srinagar-Leh axis -- are being constructed to help the Indian Army enhance its quick response time in a war-like situation and also provide round-the-year physical connectivity to the armed forces.
The twin tunnels -- the 13.5km-long Zojila tunnel and 6.5km-long Z-Morh tunnel near Sonmarg -- are being constructed at the cost of Rs 4,600 crore and Rs 2,300 crore, respectively.
Zojila tunnel has an approach road of 18.5 km while the Z-Morh has 5.5 km.
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Minister of Road Transport and Highway Nitin Gadkari and J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha will on Tuesday review the progress of the strategically important tunnels which are expected to be completed by 2023. The Zojila tunnel will be completed by 2026.
They will also drive through the Z-Morh tunnel which is nearing completion. It would be the first ride into the tunnel.
These tunnels are close to Indo-China and Indo-Pakistan borders.
Once the Zojila tunnel is completed, the travel time will be reduced by 1.5 hours while the distance from Baltal to Minamarg will come down to 13 km from 40 km. Locals and tourists will also be benefited from these tunnels.
Amidst the Chinese aggression on the Line of Actual Control, the Indian government has been pushing for the border infrastructure right from the eastern sector to the north to the western front. In a war-like situation, QRT is the key element in changing the nature of warfare.
Apart from the Border Road Organisation, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has also speeded up the construction process. In the last 5-6 years, the ministry has constructed a number of projects worth Rs 65,000 crore while works are on for projects worth Rs 2300 crore.
Talking to media persons, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Executive Director Brig GS Kambo (Retd) said these tunnels are going to look after the requirements of the Army in Ladakh through Kashmir. It will also help to improve the connectivity for the locals during the winter season.
During the winter season, several stretches of the Srinagar-Leh axis are closed for around 5-6 months every year due to snow. In such a scenario, the Indian Army either had to store their rations, medicine, kerosene in advance or had to fly in transport aircraft.
The nodal agency, NHIDCL stated that the armed forces would not have to face any challenges once they (tunnels) get completed.