Work on Zojila tunnel, Ring Roads to begin with PM’s visit

Work on Zojila tunnel, Ring Roads to begin with PM’s visit
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Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is arriving on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, will inaugurate work on the Zojila tunnel that will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and Kashmir, besides dedicating the 330-MW Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project in Gurez to the people. The Indian premier is also scheduled to kickstart other infrastructure projects, including Ring Roads in Srinagar and Jammu cities.
Official sources said that the PM will attend the commencement of work on Zojila tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh national highway at an event in Jive-tsal in Leh.
He will lay the foundation stone for the Srinagar Ring Road and Jammu Ring Road at separate events at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) Srinagar and at the General Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will also be present at the events.
The 14-kilometre long Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel.
The prime minister earlier this year had approved the construction, operation and maintenance of this two-lane tunnel with parallel escape (egress) tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of the national highway at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore.
“The Zojila tunnel has been planned as a smart tunnel. It will have latest safety features like fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, over-height vehicle detection, tunnel radio system, etc,” a government spokesman said.
The spokesman said the tunnel will have pedestrian crossing passages at every 250 metres and motorable crossing passages and lay-bys at every 750 metres. Emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets will be installed at every 125 metres.
The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes, besides making the drive much safer and convenient.
The Ring Roads in Srinagar and Jammu are aimed at reducing traffic congestion in these cities and making road travel safer, faster, more convenient and more environment friendly, the spokesman said.
Being built at a cost of Rs 1,860 crore, the Srinagar Ring Road will have a major bridge, three flyovers, 23 tunnels and two via-ducts, the spokesman said.
The 58.25-km four-lane Jammu Ring Road, being built at a cost of Rs 2023.87 crore, will link Jagati (western Jammu) to Raya Morh. It will have eight large bridges, six flyovers, two tunnels and four via-ducts, he said.
The prime minister will also attend the closing ceremony of the birth centenary of 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche in Leh. He will also attend the convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu.