• AMPlus Issue7

It is a Green Light on the Zo jila Tunnel Project

Malaika U Shenai

20th October 2020

Zo jila is a mountain pass in Ladakh. Zo jila is located in Drass, in the Kargil region of Ladakh. Zo jila pass is situated at an altitude of 11578 ft. It is one of the most dangerous passes to drive on. Zo jila pass is available only for six months. There will be a heavy snowfall, which ends up covering all the roads and making it impossible to travel until the Border Roads Organization (BRO) gets the snow cleared out.

Zo jila Tunnel (Source: Kashmir Observer)

The Zo jila tunnel project was first conceived in 2005; the Border Roads Organization first announced this in 2013. When the project was announced, it was under the public-private partnership (PPP). The project was later scarped because of not finding takers willing to work with such a complex landscape. Later in 2016, the project was handed to National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) from Border Roads Organization. The government decided to change it from public-private partnerships to engineering, construction, and procurement (EPC). In 2018, the contract was given to IL&FS, which was later cancelled due to financial problems. In August 2020, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure limited get the deal for the tunnel (MEIL). They bid the lowest amount to complete the project that is of Rs.4509 crore as reported by The Hindu.

According to Nitin Gadkari, the current Minister for Road Transport & Highways and the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Government of India, The entire Zo jila tunnel project in 2016 would have started from Rs.8,308 crore. At the end of the project, it would sum up to Rs.10,643 crore, but the Zo jila tunnel project in 2020 will be starting at Rs.4509 crore and will be ending at a total cost of Rs.6,808 crore. The 2020 Zo jila project is highly cost-efficient.

In 2018, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation for the construction to begin, and the Zo jila tunnel was coined as Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. On 15 October 2020, Nitin Gadkari initiated the first blast virtually for the construction to begin. The Zo jila tunnel will be 14.15 km long, which will provide yearlong all-weather connectivity to Srinagar, Dras, Kargil, and Leh. Zo jila tunnel will make a trip that was 3 hours long to just 15 minutes long. The army, the local crowd, and the tourists will be the significant benefactors of this project—emergency telephonic booth and fire-fighting equipment to be placed in every 125 meters to provide security services. Vehicles will drive at 80 kilometres per hour through this tunnel, with all the necessary precautions taken. The Zo jila tunnel to be built five times higher than the height of Qutub Minar.

Sources:(Deccan Herald, Devilonwheels, Times of India, The Hindu, Asianet Hindi)

Edited by: Ritish

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