By Poviet Kaur
Ganderbal, June 16: The crucial Escape Tunnel along the main 6.5 km Z-Morh tunnel, which will provide an all-weather connectivity between Kargil and Srinagar has been completed with the ceremonial blast carried out by officials at Gagangeer portal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Wednesday.
While the main tunnel is scheduled to take till 2023, the Escape Tunnel is expected to ready for controlled traffic by November..
Once completed, the Z-Morh tunnel will provide seamless connectivity to the tourists travelling to Sonamarg during winters even as it will also be a strategic link between Srinagar and Ladakh.
As for the just completed Escape Tunnel, it will be used for controlled traffic movement particularly during winters when the Srinagar-Leh highway remains shut due to snow and avalanches.
Executive Director of the Projects Wing of the National Highways and Infrastructure Developmemt Corporation (NHIDCL) at its Regional Office Srinagar, Gurjeet Kambo triggered the ceremonial blast for the breakthrough ceremony for the Escape Tunnel today.
Kambo on the occasion appreciated the efforts of APCO Infratech, the executing company on the milestone while also congratulating the locals and the District Administration Ganderbal.
The Executive Director NHIDCL specially lauded the role of locals for the smooth progress of the project and assured the main tunnel will be completed within the scheduled timeframe.
A senior official of the APCO Infratech confirmed that the Escape Tunnel had been completed on the whole.
He, however, added that some minor work has to be carried out before it is opened for controlled movement of traffic by November this year.
The 6.5 km long tunnel coming up on Srinagar-Leh highway near Gagangeer area of Sonamarg in Ganderbal district is part of the mega project to provide an all-weather connectivity to Ladakh and Srinagar.
For achieving the first milestone in the form of Escape Tunnel on the strategic road, former minister and MLA Kangan, Mian Altaf Ahmed complimented the construction agency.
Altaf particularly appreciated the breakthrough on the Escape Tunnel alongside the main Z-Morh Tunnel. He hoped it will be crucial during controlled movement of traffic especially during winter season.
The tunnel will facilitate locals and tourists to access Sonamarg during winter season which otherwise remains completely cut off due to bad road conditions, Altaf added.
The former minister also hailed the efforts of Showket Aijaz Bhat and Dr Piyush Singla for their role as Deputy Commissioners of Ganderbal district.
He said a “lot of progress was made on the tunnel work” during their respective tenures.
Pertinently, the Union Secretary RT&H last week visited the construction site of Z-Morh and Zojila tunnel at Sonamarg to have a first-hand appraisal of the progress of work made on the mega projects.
After on ground review of East and west Portals of Z-Morh tunnel, the Union Secretary chaired a brief meeting and reviewed the progress on the project with a detailed assessment of all vital aspects of the construction work.
The concerned officials briefed him about the pace and progress of construction works on main tunnel and Escape tunnel, safety measures, ventilation water proofing works and drainage system.
He was informed that Escape Tunnel is nearing completion while the main tunnel is expected to be completed by 2023.
The union Secretary appreciated the construction agency for breakthrough of the Z -morh escape tunnel construction.
A senior official of the National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL) told that the work on the tunnel has been expedited.
“We have been able to achieve the set monthly targets so far”.