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Zojila Pass: Asia’s Longest Bi-Directional Tunnel

Zojila Pass: Asia's Longest Bi-Directional Tunnel


Zojila Pass: Asia’s Longest Bi-Directional Tunnel

In the language of Ladakh La means pass a road between high mountains on either side. Zoji La is pass in Himalaya. Zoji La is a place of strategic importance for defence and civilian organisations. For civilian establishments it is only link which connects Ladakh to Kashmir and a lifeline for Ladakh.  Pakistani Military always targeted Zoji La in their misadventures. In last seventy years two wars fought between the countries near Zoji La.

Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi

Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi

Pakistan tried to isolate both Ladakh and Kashmir by attacking the sensitive Leh Srinagar Highway at Kargil and Dras. In Kargil war in 1999 first they felt that Zoji La pass is vulnerable for enemy attacks and safe passage through a tunnel will serve the purpose. At the height 11,575 feet above sea level Zoji la a Pass remains covered under snow for seven months of the year. The BRO units in Zoji La make intense efforts to keep it operational

for the longer period but in high winter pass closes for traffic. During the high winter the other road passing from Manali to Leh via Rohtang Pass too closes due to the snowfall, and cuts off Ladakh from the nation. For locals of Ladakh the summer goes in storing essentials for coming harsh winter. It makes their life difficult.

In January 2018 union government took a historic decision which will have far–reaching effect on people of J&K and Ladakh. Cabinet cleared the proposal of constructing tunnel at Zoji La. Zoji La tunnel will connect Sonmarg and Dras in Kargil district. The length of tunnel is 14.2 Km. Tunnel is being constructed under EPC (Engineering, Procurement and construction) model. Government supply the money for the construction and company will hand over the tunnel to Government after completing the work. Government awarded the contract to IL&FS Transportation Network Ltd at the cost of Rs 6809 crore. It will reduce the travel time from three hours to fifteen minutes on construction of tunnel. The project will take the seven years to complete.  In initial phases the work mooted through PPP model but no bidder turned up. The firm IL&FS has built the Chenani–Nashri tunnel and have adequate experience of the work of this type. Prime minister inaugurated the project in May2018.

Zoji La is the longest bidirectional tunnel in Asia. Tunnel will have all modern amenities such as transverse ventilation, Uninterrupted Power Supply, Emergency lighting, CCTV Monitoring, Variable Message Signs, Traffic logging equipment and tunnel radio system. These amenities make it a smart tunnel. Fire fighting cabinets at every 125 m will make the tunnel safe to pass. With, pedestrian crossings at every  250 m and  lay bay at 750m  makes the tunnel driver and pedestrian friendly. It will offer full connectivity in winter.

Earlier governments for reasons unknown  no action had taken regarding Zoji La. It took over seventy years to take the decision which is strategically important and also it will change the life of Ladakh. But it is late than never. The present government has displayed rare foresight and sense of purpose while selecting the projects of such the nature. Over the long time narrative of Ladakh has not changed. Survival from enemy and nature’s fury have been main pillars of this narrative. Zoji La tunnel will change this narrative by fuelling an inclusive growth of the region. This project will bring Ladakh to mainstream of the nation. Continuous communication with state Government will ensure fast development. A boost to tourism is biggest spin off from the tunnel. Capital Leh will connect nation for all the year, earnings in tourism will go up and the state economy too will benefit. This is in line with present policy of the Government progress for all. Zoji Tunnel is one of the boldest decisions taken by present NDA Government.

The biggest worry is China by creating these large infrastructural projects on the border areas, show our alertness and have the deterrence effect on them. Army will have ease to operate in a difficult terrain of Ladakh due to all weather road via the tunnel. In Zoji La tunnel Government aimed two birds in one stone one on strategic front and other on development.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official position of Article had been published on as-is basis and does not assume any responsibility or liability for any information(s) on this article.

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