The Zoji La Tunnel is a 14.2 km long road tunnel in the Himalayas that connects Sonmarg with Drass in the Kargil region of the Indian Union Territory of Ladakh. It is presently under development, with completion estimated about 5-7 years after work began in 2018.
The tunnel will reduce the distance between Sonmarg and Kargil by around 70 km, reducing travel time to just over an hour. It will also have environmental benefits in that it will cut down on pollution caused by vehicles on existing roads.
The tunnel is being constructed at a cost of approximately Rs. 7,000 crore (US$ 1 billion) by the Jammu & Kashmir State Road Development Corporation (SDRDC). The government of India is providing financial assistance of Rs. 2,500 crore (US$ 500 million) for construction of the tunnel. The remaining amount will be provided by the government of Jammu & Kashmir.
Work on the project was started in October 2008 by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) after its selection through a competitive bidding process. NHAI is responsible for building highways in India. The SDRDC was selected through another competitive bidding process. Work on the project was scheduled to be completed by 2015 but was subsequently delayed until 2018.
Due to excessive snowfall, the route stays blocked during the winter, shutting off the Ladakh area from Kashmir. The Zojila tunnel's construction will begin in October 2020. It is expected to be Asia's longest tunnel, providing avalanche-free travel on the NH1 Srinagar-Leh route. Its opening is scheduled for June 2025.
The Zojila Tunnel Project aims to provide safe, cost-effective and comfortable transport infrastructure between India and China through Leh/Kargil. The project was proposed by the Indian government with Chinese assistance. The estimated cost is $240 million (Rs 1.5 billion).
China's National Highway System (NHS) includes five national highways not including the new tunnel. They pass through remote areas of western China where there are no cities or towns near the roads. The NHS aims to connect all major cities in China and avoid taking local roads which could be damaged by war, natural disasters, or crime.
In September 2014, it was reported that work had stopped on the Zojila Tunnel due to funding issues. In November 2017, Indian media reported that work on the tunnel had been resumed after being stalled for more than a year due to financial constraints. In August 2018, it was reported that construction work on the tunnel had been halted again due to lack of funds.
It is the world's longest highway tunnel. The 9.02 km long strategically vital tunnel connects Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti region all year. It passes through the Himalayan ranges between India and China.
The tunnel was built by the Indian government's National Highway Authority for the better connectivity between northern India and Tibet. It started its journey in 2001 and was opened to traffic in 2003.
Principal author of the study was Shraddha Sharma from ISM Dhanbad who worked on this project during her PhD research. She said, "Our study shows that there has been considerable change in climate conditions across Asia due to human activities. This knowledge can help policy makers take measures to protect these ecosystems."
The researchers used historical data from weather stations around the world and also environmental models to analyze changes in climate conditions across Asia. They found that between 1901 and 2014, average temperatures across Asia increased by 0.62 degrees Celsius. Warming was particularly visible in southern parts of the continent where it exceeded 1 degree Celsius.
They also observed a remarkable increase in the number of hot days across most of the region which has serious implications for the survival of flora and fauna within these ecosystems.
The Atal Tunnel The Atal Tunnel is the world's longest roadway tunnel, measuring 9.02 kilometers in length. It will enable transportation throughout the year by connecting Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti Valley. The road tunnel connects Kaza with Himachal Pradesh, through the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.
It replaces an earlier route through the mountains that was used by pilgrims and traders before it was sealed under British rule to prevent Tibetan migrants reaching India. The new tunnel opens up economic opportunities for the region as well as providing safer travel for people living in remote parts of Pakistan and India.
India's previous longest tunnel was the Devbhumi Dwarka Tunnels, which are part of a rail link between Delhi and Jaipur. They measure 5.8 kilometers each. The Atal Tunnel will surpass this record by about 100 meters.
The project has been criticized by environmentalists who say it will destroy pristine forests and threaten wildlife. Critics also claim that the government of India did not properly consult with local communities before starting work on the tunnel site.
But proponents argue that sustainable development requires transport infrastructure improvements, including roads, rails, airways, and waterways. The tunnel will provide a much needed link between two isolated regions of Pakistan and India, reducing the risk of natural disasters causing damage to the infrastructure.