Zojila Tunnel Excavation Reaches Halfway Mark in Shortest Time

28 Mar, 2022 19:33 IST|Sakshi Post

Seven km of Zojila tunnel excavation completed

The historic & gigantic tunnel works are progressing at a brisk pace

Commute time between Sonamarg and Meenamarg will down from 4 hours to just 40 minutes 

Zojila (Kashmir)/Hyderabad: Multisector conglomerate Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL) has crossed the halfway mark in the excavation works of Zojila Tunnel in the Himalayan range amid adverse weather conditions, including blizzards and constant snowfall. This feat could be achieved in the shortest possible time.

The MEIL has carved a niche for itself by boring a tunnel in the mighty Himalayas, a first of its kind in such a geographical zone, which provides yearlong connectivity between Srinagar and Ladakh under all weather conditions. This Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel brings down distance and also commute time between the two regions. The commute time between Sonamarg and Meenamarg is presently four hours, while it drastically comes down to just 40 minutes.

Zojila tunnel is a strategic connection between Srinagar and Leh. This part of the Silk Route is most crucial for defence as well as the economy of the region. This is a key project that will contribute to the integrated development of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh regions.  

The MEIL is executing the Zojila Project with its engineering expertise and advanced New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM), using modern machinery like snow blowers, pavers and specialised boomers.

The company has carried out the works in sub-zero temperatures, especially at minus 40 degrees Celsius in high altitude. It is, in fact, difficult to execute drilling and civil works in that terrain which has hard rocks and heavy seepage. But, the MEIL is executing the works with diligence. Zojila Tunnel is a 13 km long single tube tunnel. It starts from Baltal on the west side and ends at Minamarg, near Drass on the east side. 

The tunnel excavation works are completed to an extent of almost half the length –seven km or 7,000 metres– as of now. The project has four bridges with a total length of 815 metres to cross the river on the Zojila route. The substructures and foundations for the bridges are completed.

Harpal Singh, the project head, said: "We have achieved what the entire nation thought was impossible. While everyone around Meenamarg, including army personnel, police, medical personnel and locals have left the place due to very low temperatures during winter, the dedicated workforce of the MEIL stayed on and continued the tunnel excavation works. Everyone is elated with the progress of the work."

He further added that the works on the tunnel were progressing at a very slow pace of less than 15 metres in about two years, before the MEIL took it over. “After the MEIL has taken over, it has completed 7 km of excavation works in just a year and a half. Even during peak winter, around 3.5 km of excavation work has been completed," said Harpal Singh. He said that teams from premier institutions like the IIT-Delhi and IIT-Srinagar visited the works on the project and expressed happiness over the international standards maintained in the execution.

Recalling an incident, Singh said: "On October 24, 2021, as many as 16 government employees and 24 policemen got stuck 3 km in snow at the yatra starting point. Within half an hour, the MEIL staff reached the point, cleared the snow, offered food to those stranded and rescued everyone.”

The MEIL is also laying a 17-km-long road from Z-morh to Baltal. It has completed 40 percent of the road works. 

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