Asia’s longest tunnel Current Affairs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated construction of Rs 6,809 crore Zojila tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh. It will be India’s and Asia’s longest and strategic bi-directional road tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
It will be situated at altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1A). It consists of 14.150 km long two-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with parallel 14.200 km long egress (escape) tunnel, making it Asia’s longest bidirectional road tunnel.
Its objective is to provide safe, fast and cheap all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in J&K which at moment is limited to at best six months because of snow on mountainous passes and threat of avalanches. It will reduce time taken to cross Zojila pass from present three and half hours to just fifteen minutes.
The tunnel will have latest safety features like uninterrupted power supply (UPS), tunnel emergency lighting, fully transverse ventilation system, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, over height vehicle detection, tunnel radio system etc.
The construction project will be implemented by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) through National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode. It will be completed in five years.
The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather safe, fast and cheap connectivity connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. It will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions. It also has strategic and socio-economic importance and it will be instrument for development of economically backward districts in J&K. The project, on completion, will also lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to National market and beautiful region is able to receive round the year tourist traffic. It will also benefit defense forces as they now have to face hard time ensuring supplies to border posts during winters. The Zogi La pass is most strategic for entire Kargil sector of J&K which has seen intrusion and war in past.