Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday visited Jammu and Kashmir to review the progress on the construction of two very important tunnels – the Zojila tunnel and the Z-Morh tunnel. Both Zojila tunnel, which will be Asia’s longest tunnel on completion, and the Z-Morh tunnel are expected to be completed ahead of schedule by December 2023.
- Zojila tunnel to be Asia’s longest tunnel at 14.15 km
- Zojila to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh
- Z-Morh, to allow all-weather access between Srinagar and Kargil
About Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels
The Zojila tunnel, which is being constructed between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of the NH-1, will allow for all-weather access between Srinagar and Leh across the year. At 14.15km, the Zojila tunnel will be the longest bi-directional road tunnel in Asia upon completion.
Currently, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel, which is also situated in Jammu and Kashmir, is the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia at 10.89 km. At 11,575 feet above sea level, the Zojila tunnel will also surpass the Atal tunnel, currently the highest tunnel in the world.
Meanwhile, the Z-Morh tunnel is being constructed between Gagangir and Sonmarg, and will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and Kargil in Ladakh. The Z-Morh tunnel will measure 6.5km in length upon completion, and has a 5km approach road. This, too, is a bi-directional tunnel.
Both projects are under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and are expected to be completed ahead of the scheduled timeline. The Z-Morh tunnel is expected to be completed by 2022, while the Zojila tunnel should be complete by December 2023. Gadkari also expressed satisfaction with the pace and quality of the work on both the projects. Both tunnels are being built to the highest safety standards and also have provisions for escape tunnels in case of emergencies.
Significance of Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels
The Atal tunnel situated on the Manali-Leh Highway proved to play a key role in boosting tourism and accessibility to the regions of Ladakh in the harsh winter months when the region is completely cut off due to heavy snowfall. The Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels will play a similar role in the Srinagar-Leh corridor, further improving accessibility to the Ladakh region in winter months.
The current route between Srinagar and Leh through the Zojila Pass is only motorable for six months in a year. It is also touted as one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the world. The Zojila tunnel will thus not only provide all-year and all-weather accessibility of the regions of Ladakh, it will also be a much safer alternative and is expected to reduce travel time from three and half hours through the Zojila pass to just 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Z-Morh tunnel will facilitate locals and tourists to access Sonmarg during the winter months as well. More importantly, both these tunnels will provide a huge economic boost to the regions of Ladakh. Improved connectivity will boost tourism all year round, which will in turn bring employment opportunities and economic benefits to the locals. It will prove to be a lifeline for the locals.