NEW DELHI: The government is looking into the option of integrating the laying of a
along the all
beneath the Zojila pass in Jammu and Kashmir. The construction of the main tunnel will start soon.
Sources said National Highway and
Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd
(NHIDCL) has presented the proposal of a parallel tunnel to the
and highways ministry. They added that the prime minister’s office has asked the agency to look into the option of integrating road and rail networks on this stretch.
The NHIDCL is likely to seek the view of the railway ministry on this issue. During the first tenure of Narendra Modi, the PMO had asked the road and railway ministries to consult each other while planning construction of tunnels so that there is integrated development.
The NHIDCL has awarded the work of a 14.1 km tunnel to Hyderabad-based infrastructure major, Megha Engineering. The road ministry had restructured the earlier project, which brought down the cost of the tunnel by nearly Rs 3,500 crore. Zojila tunnel will ensure round-the-year connectivity from Srinagar to Ladakh.
While the original plan was to build an escape tunnel along the main tunnel, the idea was done away with when the plan was tweaked.
Sources said considering that even if train operations are planned on this stretch, very few trains may actually run and a railway line can be laid in the main tunnel which will be constructed. They added vehicular traffic can be blocked for half an hour when the train passes through the tunnel.
Secondly, a parallel tunnel can be built after the first one as agencies will have better assessment of the geological condition and the cost estimate would be more realistic.