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New rail and road tunnel will be built till Leh-Ladakh border, will be constructed for army use in case of emergency

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Rapid rail and road connectivity to the Leh-Ladakh border remains a top priority for the central government after tensions with China. In view of this, it is proposed to build a new rail and road tunnel (Zojila Phase-II) parallel to the Zojila Tunnel, the longest and highest position in Asia. The purpose of making Zojila Tunnel Phase-2 is to stop road traffic in case of emergency and run trains only for the army. So that military vehicles, logistics, tanks etc. can be delivered on the border at a fast speed. This will probably be the first tunnel in the country in which trains will run on railway tracks and vehicles will run on the road.

Let us inform that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had suggested to work on the option of building a railway track along the road in the tunnel itself for Leh-Ladakh border connectivity. After this, a presentation has been made by the National Highways Infrastructure and Development Corporation Limited (NHAIDCL) before the Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Girdhar Armane, regarding Zojila Tunnel Phase-2. There are two options in this. The first is to build only railway tracks in the tunnel, while the second to build both rail and road tunnels.

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In this meeting, the department informed that railways does not plan to build a track between Srinagar-Leh. Railways is considering to build Manali-Leh via Bilaspur railway track in Himachal. More than 40 rail tunnels will be built on this route. Which will cost a lot. Girdhar has directed the top officials of NHAIDCL to talk to the Ministry of Railways for starting the Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh project. Officials said that after getting the green signal from the Ministry of Railways, work on the said project will be started. In this regard, NHAIDCL has written a letter to the Ministry of Road Transport to start Zojila Phase-2 soon in the month of August. It mentions that Zojila Tunnel is a signal tube under construction.

This is not good from the point of view of security, it will be difficult to evacuate passengers in distress. Therefore, it is imperative to build a new parallel tunnel. With this, road connectivity between Srinagar-Leh will be maintained throughout the year. Due to which the movement of armed forces and logistics vehicles in Leh-Ladakh will continue even in snowfall. Currently, Leh-Ladakh is completely cut off from Srinagar for six months due to snowfall in winters.

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