Zojila tunnel will be a historic achievement for the country as it will come after 30 years of local demand

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari will initiate the first blasting for the 14.5km long Zojila tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday. The strategically significant tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh on NH-1 and reduce the travel time from more than 3.5 hours currently to just 15 minutes to travel through the tunnel.

Located at an altitude of about 3,000 meters under the Zojila Pass, the Zojila Tunnel will bring about an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions, which remains cut-off from the rest of the country during winters due to heavy snowfall for about six months.

Once completed, the tunnel project will be a historical achievement for the country as it will come after 30 years of overwhelming public demand of Kargil, Drass, and Ladakh region. It will also be of great importance to the defense of the country in view of the extensive military activities along the country's borders.

According to an official statement by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the two-lane bi-directional single tube tunnel is designed after taking care of the proper safety measures. Emergency lay-bys are located at intervals of 750 m staggered on both sides of the carriageway along with manual fire alarm push buttons and portable fire extinguishers at the disposal of all drivers.

To enhance safety, from video surveillance to proper entrance and interior lighting, everything has been taken care of while designing the tunnel.

Apart from this, the Zojila Tunnel, expected to be completed in six years, will generate employment for the local residents.

The Zojila Tunnel project was started in 2005 but was scrapped due to financial troubles. It gained pace in February 2020, when Gadkari reviewed it in detail and handed it over to the experts to study. In April 2020, the tunnel experts and stakeholders submitted the report, which was approved by the Minister.