Residents of Kargil and Leh, the twin districts in Jammu and Kashmir, which remain inaccessible for rest of the country due to inclement weather, might finally get some respite.
The road transport and highways ministry has cleared the decks for works to start on the much-delayed project to link the two strategically important districts to rest of India.
Two state of the art all-weather tunnels across Zojila Pass on National Highway-1 will be constructed. The length of the two tunnels would be approximately 19 kilometre.
“Road transport minister CP Joshi on Monday informed the Parliament that the foundation stone of the project would be laid in August,” an official said.
Once complete, this would result in the road that connects Kargil and Leh to remain open throughout the year.
Though first approved way back in 2005, the twin tunnel had remained on the drawing board ever since on account of technical difficulties in implementing the project in such a difficult terrain.
Work gathered momentum only late last year after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, following a visit to J&K, requested the road minister CP Joshi to expedite it. "A need for developing these tunnels was felt at the earliest to provide an all weather connectivity and relief to the people of J&K," said a ministry official.
Sources said Joshi has held several meetings since then to clear the bottlenecks and fast track the project. The Border Roads Organization, which will construct the tunnels has been directed to finalise the detailed project report by March 31.
While in the first phase a 6.5 km long tunnel estimated to cost about R200 crore would be constructed across Zojila Pass, in the second phase a 13 km long tunnel would come up.