Connectivity through the year has always been an issue in the upper Himalayas and the government has been trying to resolve that problem of late. After the Atal tunnel constructed under the Rohtang pass connecting Manali and Keylong on the way to Leh, the government has begun with the construction of a new 14.15 km long tunnel on the Zojila pass which will significantly reduce the travel time between Srinagar and Leh, and more importantly, will provide all-weather connectivity in the region. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had launched the first blasting stone for the tunnel on October 15.
The Zojila tunnel will be one of the longest tunnels in Asia and will be developed on the lines of the Atal tunnel, meaning it will be an advanced one as well. The Zojila Pass is situated at an altitude of 11, 578 ft on the Srinagar-Drass-Kargil-Leh National Highway-1 (NH1) and the new project holds a major strategic significance. It will bring about an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu & Kashmir and provide easy access for military troops into the region. Not to mention, it will do wonders for the tourism sector in the scenic mountains through the year and will reduce travel time by an estimated 2 hrs 45 minutes. It takes around 3 hours to complete the treacherous stretch at present and the tunnel will enable doing so in just 15 minutes.
As said, just like the Atal Tunnel, even this will be a modern one and the government is spending ₹ 6,800 crore in this project. It is billed as Asia's longest bi-directional tunnel and will have proper halt facility in between, directional and informative sign boards, speed cameras, network connectivity proper lighting, well-paved tarmac and a footway tunnel running underneath.