The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday paved the way for construction of the Rs 6,809-crore strategic Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir. During winters, Srinagar, Kargil and Leh remain cut-off from the rest of the world due to heavy snowfall and this project will provide all-weather connectivity to the region.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with Parallel Escape (Egress) Tunnel excluding approaches on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A at Km 95 and at Km 118 in Jammu and Kashmir on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode,” the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.

Situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, the pass remains closed during winters (December to April). Heavy

snowfall and avalanches cut off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.

The project will also bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions, the statement said. “The project has strategic and socio-economic importance and shall be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.

The construction period of the project is seven years and it will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). “The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4,899.42 crore. The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6,808.69 crore. It includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years,” the statement added.

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