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Strategically located Zojila tunnel construction commences, inaugural blasting by Nitin Gadkari

Aditya Chatterjee  | Updated: October 15, 2020, 06:39 PM IST

Work on the Zojila Tunnel has commenced with the ceremonial blasting by the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. This will be an important tunnel as will offer all-weather connectivity between Leh and Srinagar valley. With a length of 14.15km, the tunnel has located an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras & Kargil. During winters this section is often closed due to heavy snowfall.  It is one of the most dangerous stretches in the world to drive a vehicle and this project is also geo-strategically sensitive. It is being said that the Zojila tunnel project would enhance the safety of the travellers crossing Zozila Pass and would reduce the travel time from more than 3 hours to 15 minutes.

Strategically located Zojila tunnel construction commences, inaugural blasting by Nitin Gadkari

The project was first conceived in 2005 and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by BRO in the year 2013 on BOT (Annuity) mode. The project was eventually given to NHIDCL in July 2016 for implementation on EPC mode. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone at Leh and commenced the work in May 2018. The work progressed up to July 2019, and thereafter the company in charge of the project IL&FS went into financial problems and the project was stuck. Hence, the contract was terminated later on.

In February 2020, Nitin Gadkari reviewed this whole project to reduce the cost and to execute the languishing project on priority. An expert group whose suggestions were taken into consideration mentioned the modalities of project configuration and implementation, to achieve project completion in the least possible time and cost. The total cost that was saved during the reviewing of the project was Rs 3,835crore.

"The construction cost of Zojila tunnel was earlier worked out at Rs 6,575.85 crore and after considering the escalation @ 5 per cent per annum and the total capital cost of the project as Rs 8,308 crore by NHIDCL. Thus, the total integrated cost of the project including Zojila tunnel and approaches up to Z- Morh tunnel works out to Rs 10,643 crores. Thus, after re-modelling of the project and reaping the benefit of integrated project management by segregating the egress tunnel & utilizing the excavated rock material in the construction of approaches, generated from tunnel boring, resulted in an anticipated saving of Rs 3,835 crore" mentioned Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

It is a moment of pride for India. I am confident that it will be completed in four years and the Prime Minister will inaugurate it before the code of conduct for the next Lok Sabha elections, stated the Union Minister.  This tunnel when completed will be a landmark achievement in the history of modern India. It will also be of great importance to the Defence of the country, in view of the fact that massive military activities along our borders in Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan regions are taking place, stated a Government release.

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