Zojila: Hyderabad-based engineering giant Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) has achieved a breakthrough in the all-weather Zojila Tunnel construction project in the Jammu Kashmir-Ladakh region.
MEIL was awarded the all-weather connectivity project (Zojila project) connecting Kashmir valley to Ladakh on 1 October 2020, on EPC Mode. MEIL bagged the Rs 4,300 crore project in October 2020 after it quoted the least price during the tender process conducted by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL).
The total length of the project is 32 kilometres and is divided into two parts.
Part I of the project, having major bridges and two tunnels, is 18 km long and connects Sonamarg and Baltal. The company said that both the tubes of tunnel one (T1) have been excavated amid harsh weather conditions and termed it a major breakthrough. Tube 1, which is 472 metres in length, was daylighted on November 4 on the occasion of Diwali, while the 448-metre tube 2 was daylighted on Monday, November 22.
MIEL said that the work on tunnel 2, which has two tubes of 2 kilometres each, is going on in full swing and will achieve daylighting in the month of April 2022.
MEIL has begun the project work in the month of May 2021 after the construction of access roads.
The work on Part II of the project, which is the 13.3 Km long Zojila main tunnel, is also going on in full swing. MEIL said it has achieved 600 meters advance from Ladakh, and 300m advance from Kashmir’s side. Completion of the project (September 2026) is on schedule, the company said.
The Zojila main tunnel is going to be Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel and will provide all-weather connectivity from Kashmir valley to Ladakh. Presently, the road from Srinagar to Leh is open for only five months in a year owing to extreme snowfall during winters. The existing Srinagar-Ladakh highway is closed from mid-November to April, literally cutting off this entire region from the rest of the world. Thus, the significance of this project is crucial.
Once the project is completed, the distance will be reduced (from Baltal to Minamarg) from 40 km
to 13 km, and travel time between the two Union territories will also be reduced by 1.5 hours.
On September 28, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari reviewed the progress of the Zojila tunnel project and lauded Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL). Gadkari inspected the under-construction Zojila tunnel and expressed his satisfaction with the construction speed.
Located at an altitude of 11,578 feet above sea level and the harsh weather conditions in the Himalayas make it a challenging project. On completion, the engineering marvel will be the first of its kind in such a geographical zone.