The Zojila Tunnel is expected to be completed by early 2027.

‘In winters, the work becomes more challenging, especially due to avalanches. Last year, the work was suspended for a few months following an avalanche, further delaying the project’, said Harpal Singh, Project Manager of the Zojila tunnel. He mentioned that by September 2025, 70 percent of the work would be completed. ‘By then, the tunnel would be through, paving the way for other works to be completed. After that, the rest will follow for total completion in early 2027.” It is to be noted that the tunnel is situated between Baltal and Minamarg and has a total distance of 13 kms, with work currently ongoing from both sides. “We have started the work from both ends; from Baltal, we have gone 4 kms deep, and a similar depth has been achieved from the Minamarg side as well as under stage 1,” he said. Singh mentioned that under stage 2, known as the benching, the work is progressing parallelly with 2 km depth achieved so far from both sides. ‘For ventilation and other purposes, the tunnel has three vertical shafts whose accomplishment is challenging: shaft 1 has a length of 500 meters, shaft 2 has 385 meters, and Shaft 3 has 220 meters,’ he said. According to the authorities, shaft 3 is complete, while 104 meters have been covered for shaft 2, and shaft 1 has seen the completion of a 70-meter pilot hole. ‘Shaft 3 is quite challenging, considering the work conditions and the altitude of 3600 meters,’ he said. As per officials, with the completion of the Zojila tunnel, the Zojila pass will be completely bypassed, ensuring all-weather connectivity and paving the way for locals, tourists, and armed forces to have seamless connectivity. Officials further stated that another ongoing project from Gagangeer to Sonamarg, comprising a tunnel-referred to as Z-Morh tunnel-and a road, is nearing completion. ‘The total distance is 11 kms and is being constructed by APCO. We expect both works to be completed in April-May this year, and likely in May, it will be opened for traffic.’ From Sonamarg to Baltal, officials said that on the 17 km stretch, 4 big bridges and 4 tunnels are coming up, which are also set for completion in August this year. ‘There, we have completed 80 percent of the work, and currently, the work on ventilation and lighting is ongoing,’ he said. The officials noted that this year, there has been less snow, and the road has remained open, leading to fast progress in the works. ‘Currently, the work on the Zojila tunnel is going on round-the-clock, and the reduced snowfall has surely allowed us to continue the work which otherwise would have faced halts.’

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