Leh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Rs 6,809 crore Zojila tunnel project that will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
Once completed, the tunnel would be the longest road tunnel in Asia.
Addressing a large congregation gathered in Leh ground for the closing ceremony for birth centenary celebration of the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, the prime minister said the tunnel would help in connecting the region with the rest of the country, a dream of the Buddhist spiritual guru.
The Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall, cutting off Ladakh region from Kashmir.
The prime minister also announced the creation of a virtual museum which would showcase the history and tradition of Ladakh region to the world.
Accompanied by Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Modi paid tributes to Kushok Bakula Rinpoche at the closing ceremony and unveiled his plaque.
He began his speech in local language which was greeted by applause by a large crowd which had come to attend the function.
Paying rich tributes to Bakul Rimpoche, he said, “We remember the rich contribution of the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. His was a life dedicated to serving others.”
Unveiling a plaque for commencing the work for the tunnel, Modi said, “Zojila tunnel is not a mere tunnel but a modern day marvel.”
He said the cabon dioxide would be removed from the tunnel through a tower, seven times higher than the Qutub Minar.
Modi said it would provide connectivity to the region besides employment to the local youths.
“Jammu and Kashmir is going to get development projects worth Rs 25,000 crore. These projects will have a positive impact on the people of the state,” he said.