Aimed at providing all weather connectivity to areas along China and Pakistan border project Deepak – wing of Border Road Organization (BRO) has cleared way for constructing another tunnel beneath Shinkula pass, while work progresses speedily on Rs1500 crore strategic Rohtang tunnel.
Project Deepak has completed pre- feasibility report on proposed tunnel under Shinkula pass, which is aimed at providing unhindered access to Manali –Leh Road. The engineers of Border Road Organization had conducted studies for nearly past nine months exploring possibilities for cutting tunnel across 15,920 feet Shinkula pass.
Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE)- Laboratory of Defense, Research and Development Organization which has its headquarter in Manali has set up its center in Shinkula for snow studies. “Pre-feasibility report would be sent to Union government” confirmed Chief Engineer Deepak Project, IR Mathur, while he added that feasibility studies would be based on data and snow studies. Studies have assessed technical and economic feasibility for boring tunnel.
Border Road Organization engineer were in dilemma whether to construct tunnel, as government had earlier been mulling over a proposal to construct a road for crossing over Shinkula pass. But after snow studies engineers are now of the opinion that tunnel was only solution that could provide all weather connectivity to border areas in Kashmir.
According to engineers, borders roads spend nearly Rs 7 to Rs 8 crore annually on clearing snow on roads leading to Leh and Ladakh. The proposed tunnel at Shinkula pass will have a distance of four to five kilometers length and estimated cost of the project is pegged about Rs 600-700 crore.
Provided Defense Ministry gives go ahead for feasibility studies, the border road organization will examine environmental issues, identify possible tunnel routing alignments and estimate costs of infrastructure and equipment required. “Right now we are looking for feasible point for cutting tunnel. If we go upwards distance of tunnel will be shortened but its obvious that height altitude snow is more,” said an engineer requesting anonymity.
If proposal for tunnel is translated into reality, it would reduce distance to Leh by 100 kilometers and would prove significant for faster, movement of troops, which was greatly felt during the kargil conflict when the main routes connect Ladakh came under firing from the Pakistani troops. At that time to 470 kilometrtes s road stretch connecting Manali and Leh had proved vital for the defense supplies. The Indian government had begun to feel need for providing all weather road to Ladakh.
Even though the Rohtang tunnel was conceived way back in 1983 as an alternate route for strategic considerations, it was only in September last year that that the Cabinet sub-committee on Security cleared the Rohtang tunnel project. The Tunneling work at Rohtang took of the in June last year After United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi laid foundation of the eight kilometers tunnel.