Cabinet nod likely today for round-the-year connectivity to Ladakh

October 17, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN |


NEW DELHI: The Cabinet is likely to clear a proposal on Thursday for construction of a 15-km tunnel at Zojila pass in Ladakh region. Sources said that the proposal — put forth by the road transport and highways ministry — envisages construction of an all-weather road involving Rs 9,090 crore investment, ensuring undisrupted round-the-year connectivity between Ladakh and Srinagar.Highway ministry officials said that the construction of the tunnel will need at least seven years, and the contract for collecting toll will be for 15 years.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had promised to people of Leh and Ladakh to provide all-weather connectivity to the rest of the country during UPA’s rule. Last year, he had laid the foundation stone for the 6.5 km Z-Morh tunnel in this region involving nearly Rs 2,700 crore. This project is scheduled to be completed in five years. Sources said that the project developer, however, is yet to tie up funds for construction.

The Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 ft on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1), which remains closed from December to April. It is not feasible to keep the road clear during winter due to heavy snowfall, and to make matters worse the area is prone to severe avalanches.

The project involves construction of a two-lane and bi-directional tunnel with an escape route. The project will be constructed on annuity mode, where government will pay back the private developer’s investment in installments once the stretch becomes operational.

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