The tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the 3.5 hours to 15 minutes.
It will also be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel and will be built at a cost of ₹6,809 crore. It is expected to be completed in five years.
The pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 ft on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall, which cuts off Ladakh region from Kashmir.
“The Centre and the state government are working together to take the development work forward. Today alone there will be either inauguration or foundation stone laying for projects worth ₹25,000 crore. This is a testimony to the Centre’s commitment to the development of the state,” the PM said in Leh after unveiling the plaque marking the commencement of the work on the tunnel.
Mr. Modi added that many local people will get employment opportunities during the development of the tunnel.
The tunnel will have a transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, pedestrian cross passages at every 250 metres, as well as emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets at every 125 metres.
The PM also laid the foundation for a 42.1 km Srinagar Ring Road and 58.25 km long Jammu Ring Road, which will be built at a cost of ₹1860 crore and ₹2023.87 crore respectively.