India To Connect Kashmir Valley To Ladakh In $932 million
Ladakh – India has made a surprisingly strategic move to build a multi-tunnel infrastructure between Kashmir valley and Ladakh. The $932 million projects would have a series of tunnels and bridges to connect these two areas which have remained deadlocked under snowfall, for literally half of the year.
Employing a huge workforce, this project is about 14 kilometers (9 miles) long and will bypass the challenging Zojila pass, connecting Sonamarg with Ladakh. Officials say it will be India’s longest and highest tunnel at 11,500 feet (3,485 meters).
Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, this is a huge feat for India to achieve. This development will help stop Ladakh depend on air support to receive supplies for literally half of the year. However, what is worth noting is that Ladakh does share de facto borders with Pakistan and China.
Sonamarg marks the beginning of Ladakh and the end of conifer-clad mountains across the rocky Zojila mountain pass. The resort place is now going to become more accessible to tourists as well. According to officials, a 6.5-kilometer (4-mile) tunnel, the first of four, is already complete.
The project it seems will be of great help to India’s military preparedness. For the last 16 months, there has been a tense standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the de-facto border of Ladakh. The current route between Srinagar and Leh through the Zojila Pass is only motorable for six months in a year. It is considered as one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the world.
The Zojila tunnel will now provide safer all-year-long accessibility to and from and is expected to reduce travel time from three and half hours through the Zojila pass to just 15 minutes. Like the Indian politicians, the Indian military planners view the tunnel project as extremely important for Ladakh. Experts say it will provide logistics flexibility to the military and give it operational and strategic mobility.
According to Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways feels that the Zojila part of the tunnel should be finished two years before the given deadline of 2026. It definitely looks like an agenda to be accomplished before the next general elections. The project definitely serves a dual purpose.