And now, work on Zojila tunnel commences

A prospective boon for the armed forces and the tourists, a time and distance saver, an expected yet superb engineering marvel, the work on Zojila tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir was recently heralded by ceremonial blasting through VC by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari. Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing building of tunnels of immense importance in a row over the last few years and the one under reference, will prove of immense importance and utility from strategic , developmental and tourism related angles. It is loaded with the promise of all weather connectivity which otherwise in this region is impossible to accomplish. Srinagar valley and Leh on National Highway -1 is to witness and experience, with the completion of this tunnel , an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Rightly describing the up-coming tunnel as a moment of pride for the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari expects this most prestigious tunnel to be completed in four years and is expected to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister ”much before the code of conduct for the next Lok Sabha elections”. It has however, a leverage of six year period for its completion. In an era of cost saving and employing means to obtain optimum results , this tunnel was subjected to remodelling that resulted in the saving of Rs.4000 crore to the public exchequer and that too without compromising on safety, security and quality which must be duly appreciated. Every effort needed in the direction of achieving the envisioned goals of development with all-round honest dedication , the country could be taken forward by expending less or incurring costs at the lower side. Similar views were rightly expressed by the Union Minister at the virtual launch of the construction work of this 14.5 km long tunnel project.
The importance of Zojila pass and its going into international fame, needless to add, occurred in the year 1948 when Indian battle tanks roared here , a military feat which nowhere in the world had taken place at an altitude of 11600 feet from the sea level .Snowing heavily starts in this region by October and it remains closed and cut off for over six months which this tunnel will consign to the pages of history books. This bidirectional tunnel is slated to be crowned as the longest tunnel in Asia to come up in one of the most dangerous stretches in the world where driving a vehicle is no less than a challenge in itself which by coming of this tunnel too, shall get faded into memories . All ”eyes” shall remain glued towards the construction of this tunnel project which has the distinction of being geo-strategically very sensitive.
The fact that there was regular follow up of J&K projects which not only hastened their approval and sanction but their fast track construction too, has been taken care of in which context Gadkari , made a mention of Dr. Jitendra Singh MoS who happens to be an MP from the Jammu region on whose personal request , Union Minister for Road Transport said, Chenani -Nashri tunnel was named after Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. Another notable milestone in the infrastructural development of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir can be seen in the construction of Delhi -Katra Green Expressway which was going to reduce the distance between the two ends to only 650 kms . The massive project estimated to cost Rs.21000 crore is expected to see work on it starting within three months as the required land acquisition and other formalities are underway. It is worth noting that the said Expressway was scheduled to be developed as an ultra modern highway in line with London design of transportation with weather information available to the drivers. Let us, however, see the most sensitive and strategic Zojila tunnel getting constructed within the timeline to reap multifaceted advantages from it including keeping a check on incursions by our two belligerent neighbours and keep strategic Ladakh accessible throughout the year.