Work begins on Zozila Tunnel – the longest tunnel road in Asia

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New Delhi: Work on the Zozila Tunnel in J&K began today with ceremonial blasting. The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh (Ladakh plateau) on NH-1, and will bring about an all-round economic and socio–cultural integration of Jammu & Kashmir (Now UTs of J&K and Ladakh). It involves construction of a 14.15 Km long tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass (presently motorable only for 6 months in a year) on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras & Kargil. It is one of the most dangerous stretch in the world to drive a vehicle & this project is also geo-strategically sensitive.

The project was first conceived in 2005 and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by BRO in year 2013 on BOT (Annuity) mode. Attempts to award the project four times weren’t successful. The Project was eventually given to NHIDCL in July 2016 for implementation on EPC mode. Its work was awarded to M/s. ITNL (IL&FS). Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid foundation stone at Leh and commenced the work on 19.5.2018. The work progressed up to July 2019, and thereafter M/s. IL&FS went into financial problems and the project was stuck. Hence, the contract was terminated on 15.01.2019.

Thereafter, in February 2020, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road transport & Highways, reviewed this whole project in detail. In order to reduce the cost and to execute the languishing project on priority, referred the matter to an expert group under the Chairmanship of Shri I.K Pandey, DG (RD) & SS, MoRTH. The Expert group suggested modalities of project configuration and implementation, to achieve project completion in least possible time and cost.

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