Work on the world’s highest tunnel, situated beneath the 16, 580 feet high Shinku La Pass in Himachal, is set to commence by July 2022. The two-way passage will provide all-weather connectivity on the Manali-Leh highway and boost tourism. By Eshita Srinivas
The Border Roads Organisation chief Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhary recently stated that the construction of a tunnel between Lahaul valley in Himachal Pradesh and Zanskar valley in Ladakh will conclude by 2025. The structure, slated to be the world’s highest tunnel, is a part of Project Yojak, an initiative to boost road infrastructure in Himachal. At the moment, the highest tunnels in the world are in China and Peru, respectively, neither of which exceed 16,000 feet above sea level in height.
World’s highest tunnel will connect the people of Himachal’s Lahaul and Ladakh’s Zanskar
The Border Roads Organisation will construct the World’s HIGHEST tunnel at Shinku La Pass at an altitude of 16,580ft, connecting Himachal Pradesh & Ladakh.
Construction will begin in July 2022 and is expected to be operational by 2025
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) April 20, 2022
As of now, travellers heading from Himachal to Ladakh need to travel about 355 kilometres. The tunnel, with a south portal at Shinku La and a North portal at Lhakhang, will reduce this by 60 kilometres and provide all-weather connectivity on the Manali-Leh highway, serving as an alternative to the Manali-Leh-Kargil route, Zee News reports.
Work is said to commence in July this year, and the BRO task force has set up headquarters at Jispa in Lahaul for the same, as per a report by the Hindustan Times. Widening, blacktopping, and other prerequisites will conclude in three years. Chowdhary was quoted in a report by the Times of India as saying, “The Shinku-La tunnel will be 4.25km in length at an altitude of about 16,000ft. It will be the highest and longest tunnel at this altitude.”
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Neeraj Kumar, the Lahaul and Spiti deputy commissioner further added, “We have requested the BRO to set up its BRTF office at Jispa so that it brings job opportunities to local residents.” In line with this, a team of BRO engineers have moved from Rohtang Pass, home to the longest tunnel in the world, to Shinku La. In fact, the chief engineer of the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass will oversee the construction of the tunnel and the roads that connect to it. Choudhary added, “There will be two tubes for to and fro traffic in the tunnel.” He further stated that the work would commence soon.
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Choudhary was also hopeful of the project opening doors to tourism in these regions. True to this, Times of India reports that improved connectivity post the construction of the Atal Tunnel led to a 622 percent increase in the number of tourists in Lahaul, going up from the usual nine lakh in a year.
The Shinku La Pass was only recently reopened for traffic and tourists after a snow-clearing operation.