Prime Minister Modi to lay Zojila tunnel foundation after Aug 15 -
Prime Minister Modi to lay Zojila tunnel foundation after Aug 15
Posted 08 Aug 2017 11:44 AM


After declaration of ambitious Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay foundation for construction of much awaited Zojila tunnel at Kargil anytime after Independence Day, which would link strategically very significant Ladakh region with rest of the country by road throughout the year.
It was only about a week ago that IL&FS had bagged Rs 4899 crores worth contract after successful bidding for construction of Zojila tunnel.
Official sources told that in view of ever increasing acrimony in relations between India and China, Narendra Modi Government at the Centre wants to strengthen infrastructure in Ladakh region especially road network and build railway line up to Leh to help round-the-clock supplies to Ladakh region, which remained cut off with rest of the country for more than six months due to heavy snowfall near Zojila in the absence of tunnel facility.
Modi is expected to lay foundation stone of Zojila tunnel anytime after August 15 i.e. the Independence Day celebrations. The formal date is likely to be announced on Tuesday depending upon availability of the Prime Minister, sources said, adding that Union Minister for Road and Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari, who has been taking special interest in construction of the tunnel for benefit of Ladakh region, would also accompany the Prime Minister during the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Weather has been fine at Zojila this time and helicopters would easily land there, sources said, adding that weather plays crucial role in holding important functions in Ladakh region.
“We understand the plight of the people in Ladakh region who face severe crisis during winters when they are cut off from the rest of India for six months. We are committed to undertaking the project and will issue tenders shortly. Therefore, soon after the project was sanctioned, the Prime Minister has agreed to lay its foundation stone,” sources said.
IL&FS Transportation had emerged as the lowest bidder for Rs 4,899 crore Zojila pass tunnel, about a week ago.
The tunnel will be constructed in seven years in view of very limited working season in the area due to heavy snowfall.
Sources said the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre has been attaching very significance to infrastructure building in the areas having Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Though Zojila tunnel will benefit entire population of Ladakh region comprising two districts of Leh and Kargil as it will link the region with Srinagar throughout the year, it will also give advantage to the troops deployed along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh and Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Kargil.
Presently, the troops as well as civil administration had to dump supplies in Leh and Kargil for six months of winter i.e. November to April during the summer as Srinagar-Leh Highway closes in November and re-opens in April. Only air services operate to the region and it is not possible to lift entire supplies by air.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had few days back laid foundation stone for survey on Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line. Sources said the Government proposed to link Leh with rail line also though it could take some years in view of very tough terrain from where the train had to pass.
Last year, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry had ordered “rebidding” for the project awarded to IRB Infrastructure. The project aims at providing all-weather connectivity between Kashmir valley and Ladakh, which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall.
The Company had quoted an amount of Rs 4,899.42 crore to be constructed in a period of 2,555 days (7 years).
Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578-ft on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.
The company had submitted the bid to the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) for construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with parallel escape tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section in Jammu & Kashmir on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
On March 1 last year, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry had ordered “re-bidding” for the project, which had been awarded to IRB Infrastructure.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting, chaired by Gadkari, after Congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged that guidelines were violated while awarding the contract.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry, however, had denied the charges.

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