New Delhi, May 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to lay the foundation stone of Zojila tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, the government said on Friday.
He will attend the commencement of work on the tunnel at an event in Jive-tsal in Leh.
During the visit, Modi will also lay the foundation stone for the Srinagar Ring Road and the Jammu Ring Road at two separate events in Srinagar and Jammu. He will be accompanied by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
The 14 km-long Zojila tunnel will be India's longest road tunnel and Asia's longest bi-directional tunnel.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had earlier this year approved the construction, operation and maintenance of this two-lane bi-directional tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of NH-1A at a total cost of Rs 6,800 crore.
The tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, and will also cut down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from the present 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes.
"The construction of the tunnel is expected to bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions. In addition to direct jobs generated during construction, it will also lead to massive indirect and spinoff jobs due to acceleration of economic growth," a statement from the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said.
"The project has strategic and socio-economic importance, and will be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu and Kashmir," it added.
Planned as a smart tunnel, Zojila will have the latest safety features like fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs, traffic logging equipment and tunnel radio system.
It will also have emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets at every 125 meters along pedestrian cross passages at every 250 meters and motorable cross passages and lay-bys at every 750 meters.
"The Ring Roads in Srinagar and Jammu are aimed at reducing traffic congestion in these cities and making road travel safer, faster, more convenient and more environment friendly," the government said.
Being built at a cost of Rs 1,860 crore, the 42.1 km, 4-lane Srinagar Ring Road will link Galandar in West Srinagar to Sumbal and will provide a new route from Srinagar to Kargil and Leh.
The 58.25 km, 4-lane Jammu Ring Road, being built at a cost of Rs 2,023.87 crore, will link Jagati (western Jammu) to Raya Morh, the statement added.