Beyond Rohtang Attention Shifts To Shinkula Tunnel For All Weather Manali – Leh Road

Manali: Growing tensions between India and China on the Ladhak border had nudged the defense ministry to expedite the process of boring the Shinkula Tunnel after the Atal Tunnel Rohtang to provide a year round connectivity on the strategically important Manali Leh route.

The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Authority under the Ministry of Surface Transport have prepared the outline of Shinkula Tunnel. Managing Director and Executive Director of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Authority, Sanjeev Malik instructed to expedite the work by reaching the Shinkula Tunnel North Portal, taking stock of the geological survey work so that the DPR of Shinkula Tunnel work will be handed over to the Ministry of Defense soon. Tunnel tender process could be started soon. With the construction of this tunnel, 12 months road facility will be available for Leh.

Sanjeev Malik, executive director of the Highways and Infrastructure Development Authority, said that Department is constructing the DPR of the tunnel, in which the work of geological survey, design work is going on. In this, the consultant has recommended a tunnel of 13. 5 kilometers long, on which work is going on. It is expected that after completing the entire process by October, the report will be submitted to the Ministry of Defense in the end of October or November. And till the month of December so that the tender will be placed.

Responding to the question of media persons on the importance of the tunnel, Malik said that due to the construction of this tunnel, Zanskar and Kargil, Leh area road could be made operational for 12 months with little improvement.

File Photo: Heavy engineering works inside Rohtang Tunnel

At the same time, Leh Ladakh people are very excited about the news of the construction of Tunnel of Kargna village in Kargil district, he said that earlier there was a lot of problems due to lack of road facility.

The Zaskar Range, adjacent to the Shinkula Pass, 15,920 feet above the sea level, will no longer be three kilometers, but a 13.5 km long tunnel. The formation of Shinkula Tunnel will allow 12 months of vehicular movement between the Manali-Kargil and Manali-Leh strategic routes. Snowfall in winter will also not stop the traffic. The Shinkula Tunnel will actually serve to revive the Indian Army.

The geological survey of Shinkula Tunnel will be completed by October. After this, the DPR of the tunnel will be sent to the Ministry of Defense.

However, three km long tunnel was proposed to be built below Shinkula. Now the South Portal of the tunnel has been marked under Patinkau, about 16 km from Darcha towards Manali-Leh, under Shinkula Pass. Another feature of the tunnel will be that now there will be no need to build more tunnels under Baralacha and Tanglang Pass. The tunnel will leave Patseau on Himachal side, 10 km below Shinkula pass towards zanskar and 15 km back from Karkna, the first village of Zaskar.

The duration of tunnel construction is fixed from three to five years. The construction of the tunnel will eliminate the challenges of passes like Shinkula 16600 feet, Baralacha 16040 feet and Lachungla 16600 feet high. The journey will take about five to eight hours less. At present, the distance of Manali-Leh via Baralacha is 474 km, while the distance of Kargil from this route is 690 km. The distance of Manali-Kargil via Shinkula Pass is 515 km

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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