Nitin Gadkari to inspect Z-Morh, Zojila tunnels, work could be completed sooner than expected

Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, is slated to examine the planned Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels in Kashmir today. His inspection comes just days after Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur visited the project over the weekend to assess how it was progressing.

The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is in charge of both projects, which are expected to be finished ahead of schedule. “The construction on both tunnels is progressing at a faster rate, and we are optimistic that it will be completed ahead of schedule, before the contractual completion time,” said NHIDCL executive director Brigadier Gurjeet Singh Kambo.

When Nitin Gadkari visited the two tunnels today, he will be the first dignitary to cross the main tunnel. "We are certain that all work will be done by the middle of next year," Kambo added. The Zojila Tunnel, which would be Asia's longest bi-directional tunnel at 14.15 kilometres, will cost Rs 4,500 crore to build. It is situated on the current NH-01 at a height of between 2,700 and 3,300 metres. The tunnel will cut the distance between Baltal in Kashmir and Minamarg in Ladakh in half, from 40 kilometres to 13 kilometres. It would also enable travellers between Srinagar and Ladakh with all-weather access throughout the year.

On the other hand, the Z-Morh tunnel, being constructed at a cost of ₹2,378 crore, will connect Sonamarg with Gagangir in the Kashmir valley even during the winter season when heavy snowfall blocks most of the roads. This tunnel could be crucial for the socio-economic boost in the region. "The whole population of Sonamarg migrates south during the bitterly cold winters. A Z-Morh tunnel has to be built to keep the link open "Kambo said.

"We also have Zjila Pass at 8,500 feet as we descend into the gloomy valley. Every year, this route is essentially shut for five to six months, thus cutting Ladakh off from Kashmir for five to six months. As a result, a tunnel linking Sonamarg and Ladakh was necessary for all-around and all-weather connectivity "Kambo said.

Because they run so near to the Line of Control with Pakistan, both of these tunnels are strategically significant for India. During the winter, the present Srinagar-Ladakh highway is blocked for at least six months, effectively isolating the area off from the rest of the world. These tunnels will allow military troops to travel freely even in adverse weather once they are completed.

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