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Zojila Tunnel 1 hits major milestone, excavation work completed

The project is now another step closer to achieving all-year-round connectivity in Kashmir.

The construction work on the Rs 4,600 crore Zojila Tunnel project that connects Srinagar and Leh has crossed a major milestone with the completion of the excavation of two tubes in the all-weather tunnel. Announcing the development of the breakthrough, the MEIL, the company which has been awarded the contract to build the 13.5-km-long tunnel along with an approach road, said that the project was now another step closer to achieving all-year-round connectivity in Kashmir.

Terming it as a landmark achievement that was executed in difficult terrain and climatic conditions, the company said that the first breakthrough was achieved on the auspicious occasion of Diwali on November 4 while the second tube daylighted on November 22. The construction of the tunnel began after October 1, 2020, on a total length of 32 kilometres which has been divided into two parts. Zojila tunnel has an approach road of 18.5-km, connecting Sonamarg and Taltal with major bridges and twin tunnels. 

The company said that it had bored both tunnels with the highest standard of safety, quality, and speed within a time schedule even though tunnelling through the Himalayas is always a daunting task. Work is underway in full swing at another pair of tubes that are 2 km long each where daylighting is expected to be achieved in April 2022. The construction work at the Zojila Main Tunnel is in full swing and advances of 600 meters from the Ladakh side and 300 meters from the Kashmir side have been made so far. The official deadline for the project to be completed is 2026 but the minister had requested the company to complete the work before 2024. 

On the same Srinagar-Leh axis, a 6.5-km-long Z-Morh tunnel is being made and is expected to be completed by June 2022. Road, Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari had passed through the tunnel in September and also reviewed the ongoing works. Once these tunnels are constructed, the Indian Army, the locals and the tourists will hugely benefit. The tunnels will ensure quicker response time for the Indian Army in a war-like. It would also provide round-the-year physical connectivity to the armed forces. These tunnels are close to India-China and India-Pakistan borders.

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