Leh, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, during his day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir, laid the foundation stone for 14-km long Zojila tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway which will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel. It will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present three and a half hours, to just fifteen minutes.

Addressing a public meeting at the closing ceremony of birth centenary celebrations of 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoch, the PM announced development projects worth Rs 25,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir. “These projects – Zojila tunnel, Kishenganga Power Project- will have a positive impact on the people of the state,” he said.

Remembering the rich contribution of the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, Modi said, “His was a life dedicated to serving others. 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche distinguished himself as an outstanding diplomat. During my Mongolia visit I witnessed the goodwill he has in that country.”

On developmental work carried in the country after forming his government, he said 18,000 villages which did not receive power since Independence have been given electrical connectivity within 1,000 days.

There are four crore households in the country which do not have electricity even after 70 years of Independence and they will be given power connections within a year and a half, he said.

All You Need to Know About Zojila Tunnel

– Zojila tunnel project aims at construction of 14.15 kilometer long two lane bi-directional single tube tunnel.

– Once constructed, Zojila tunnel will be Asia’s longest and strategic bi-directional tunnel.

– It will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.

– Zojila tunnel will cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from three and a half hours presently to just fifteen minutes.

– Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall cutting off Ladakh region from Kashmir through roads.

Later in the day, PM Modi is scheduled to visit Srinagar where he will dedicate 330 MW Kishanganga Hydropower project to the nation, at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC). He will also lay the foundation stone for the Pakul Dul Power Project and Srinagar Ring Road. Besides that, he will also inaugurate the Tarakote Marg and Material Ropeway of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board in Jammu.

Notably, PM Modi’s visit to the state comes two days after the Centre asked the security forces to halt their operations during Ramadan following Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call for a ceasefire. Tight security measures are in place for Modi’s visit to the three-regions of the state.