New Delhi: Government will soon begin the work on Rs 10,000-crore Zojila pass tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity to the Leh-Ladakh region.
Zojila pass, which is situated at an altitude of 11,578-ft on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches, cutting Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.
"The government has received a bid for the Zojila pass tunnel. Though it is a single bid, but it is at a very reasonable cost. The project will immensely benefit the people of Leh-Laddakh region who remain cut off from the rest of the world during winters," Vijay Chhibber who retired yesterday as
Road Transport and Highways Secretary told PTI.
According to sources, IRB Infrastructure has bid for the project and it is scheduled to be completed in nine years. The tunnel project is part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Rs 80,000-crore development package for Jammu & Kashmir, which he had announced in November.
The package included Rs 42,611 crore for development of roads and highways in the state. The highways packaged included "construction of Zojila tunnel" as per the PMO.
The Zojila pass tunnel, after construction, will become the longest road tunnel in Southeast Asia and has already been delayed on account of rebidding the project in the extremely tough terrain due to lack of bidders.
Last year, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has told PTI: "We are committed to all-round development of Jammu & Kashmir. We will begin work soon on Rs10,000-crore Zojila pass tunnel, which would be even bigger than the 9-km long Chenani-Nashri tunnel in the state, which is India's longest road tunnel at present."
"Plight of the people can be imagined from the fact that even potatoes cost Rs 450 a kg during winters there," Gadkari had said.