Zojila Tunnel: Blasting process launched for construction of Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel

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Updated: Oct 16, 2020 11:12 AM

The ambitious Zojila tunnel project, the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia, will offer all-year connectivity between the valley of Srinagar and Leh.

The tunnel is expected to be of great importance to India's defence.

Zojila Tunnel Project: Recently, the first blasting for construction-related work at the 14.15 km long Zojila tunnel was launched by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari! The ambitious Zojila tunnel project, the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia, will offer all-year connectivity between the valley of Srinagar and Leh. Besides, it is also expected to bring about an all-round economic as well as socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir. As Zojila Pass is located at 11,578 feet of altitude on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh NH and remains closed during winters because of heavy snowfall, the project is said to be of strategic significance. Currently, it is one of the world’s most dangerous stretches to drive a vehicle and also, this project is geo-strategically sensitive, according to a PTI report.

According to Gadkari, without any compromise on safety, security and quality, the project’s re-modelling will result in savings to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore to the public exchequer. Blasting refers to breaking apart or blowing up something solid with explosives. The tunnel is expected to be of great importance to India’s Defence, keeping in view the massive military activities that are taking place along the borders in Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan regions. The Zojila tunnel will make the travel free from avalanches on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh section of NH-1. Also, it would enhance safety as well as reduce the travel time from over 3 hours to 15 minutes.

According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, earlier, the tunnel’s construction cost was worked out at Rs 6,575.85 crore and after considering the escalation at 5% per annum and the project’s total capital cost as Rs 8,308 crore by National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). The project’s total integrated cost including the tunnel as well as approaches up to Z- Morh tunnel works out to Rs 10,643 crores. Compared to the current cost of the integrated project, the total capital cost of the project would be Rs 6,808.63 crore, based on the tender received at an amount of Rs 4,509.5 crore, the ministry stated.

Therefore, after the project re-modelling and reaping the benefit of integrated project management by segregating the egress tunnel as well as utilizing the excavated rock material in the building of approaches, resulted in an anticipated saving of an amount Rs 3,835 crore, the ministry added.

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