Work on the strategic Zojila Tunnel, which will provide all -weather connectivity between Ladakh province and the rest of the country, is being powered by hundreds of locals from Kashmir.
Hyderabad company, Mega Engineering and Industries Limited (MEIL), which is implementing the project said expertise in tunnels by local labor and engineers helped them reach their targets ahead of schedule.
900 of the 1000 men working in the 13 km long tunnel are from Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have learned through hard work and perseverance. Operating a machine like a hydraulic rig is very easy for me, not a difficult task. There is no fear when I drill in the middle of a tunnel,” said Baba Latief of Bandipora.
Having worked on major projects in Rail, Road and Power at J&K for the past 20 years, employees say they have experience.
“We have expertise in tunnel projects. I can handle pipes, motor use, etc. This is the fourth project I am working on,” said Sartaj Ahmad, from Anantnag, who installs the piping system in the tunnel.
More than half of the 200 engineers are also locals.
“We are facing three geological formations. Right now we are in the most challenging Zojila formation,” said Merajudin, a geologist.
As employees race to reach deadlines, project managers praise the role of locals.
“I really depend on them. They produce so much for me. Sometimes, they even exceed my expectations. If I think today a six-meter tunnel can be done, tomorrow morning they say we have about seven meters,” he said. said Harpal Singh, Project Manager.
It is these local workers who do not let the rate drop, even during the severe winter in Kashmir that may ensure the completion of India’s strategic and prestigious projects ahead of schedule.
The journey between Srinagar and Leh now through Kargil district, where India went to war in 1999, is an ongoing nightmare.
Crossing the Zojila pass at 11,500 thousand feet was a pain. Passes, closed for 5 months a year due to snow, are also narrow and stuck in traffic jams on dusty, high -altitude passes are often a daily reality.
The project will also change the logistical support needed by the Indian Armed Forces to ensure the troops in Pakistan and China have good stocks throughout the year.
With Zojila’s pass closed in the winter, only Air Force planes can fly to Ladakh. By 2024, when the tunnel is expected to open for defensive use, that is poised to change.
The journey itself, across the pass, which now takes three hours will take just 30 minutes, the game changes. Once completed, the 4,500 crore project will be the longest road tunnel in India.