The Union Transport Ministry has launched the construction of 20 tunnels with a total length of 32 km in Jammu and Kashmir and 11 tunnels of a total length of 20 km in Ladakh. The cost of building these 31 tunnels in Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has been estimated at about ₹1.4 lakh crore. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari informed that all these projects will be completed by 2024.
The Z-Morh tunnel between Gagangir and Sonmarg will provide connectivity in all weather conditions between Srinagar in J&K and Kargil in Ladakh. The Zojila tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section will offer all-year connectivity between Leh and Srinagar. The ministry has asked the executing agency to complete the work on Zojila tunnel by December 2023. The minister said he was happy with the pace and quality of the work on both the projects and congratulated the executing agencies APCO for the Z-Morh tunnel and MEIL for the Zojila tunnel.
After the completion of the Z-Morh tunnel, the local tourism economy will get a major boost. Zojila tunnel will not only be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia but also the world's highest tunnel at the height of 11,575 feet above the ground. The project cost of the 6.5-km-long Z-Morh tunnel is ₹2,300 crore and is under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). For the Z-Morh tunnel, there is a five-km approach road and is bi-directional with an escape tunnel for emergencies.