HC notice to Government over Zojila tunnel

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SRINAGAR: High Court today issued notice to Centre as well as State for construction of Zojila tunnel as promised.
For constructing Zojila tunnel, a fresh Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was moved before Court today seeking directions for constructing the tunnel as promised to inhabitants of Ladakh from 1960’s.

The litigation has been filed against Union of India through Secretary Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, State of J&K through Chief Secretary, Managing Director National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, Director General, Broader Road Organization (BRO) and Chief Engineer, Border Roads Organization (BRO) for violating the basic rights of people of Ladakh region.

While taking the litigation today, the Division Bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar issued notice to respondents for their response by 10 April, 2019.

The petitioner Counsel stated that basic rights of Ladakhi people are getting violated as the National Highway which connects Ladakh from Kashmir and rest of the world remains closed from the month of November to May. The miseries soon start after the highway is closed as Ladakh remains cut off for at least 6 to 7 months creating a lot of hardships for the people living there.

The petitioner said, from 1960’s people of Ladakh are demanding construction of tunnel at Zojila but the Government only assures not acts. Mentioning that the initiative for constructing the tunnel was taken after Kargil War of 1999, “meetings took place, people were given assurances but till date nothing is happening,” Advocate Ismail stated.

“Though the present Government has taken some initiatives but only transfer of file procedure completed and also the authorities wasted a lot of time in tendering process with no solid result on ground,” the litigation states.

The petition read that the survey of Zojila tunnel and other ground level process started in the year 2013 onwards by Ministry of Road Transport and Highway and almost six times tenders/bids took place and is still going on.

Previously, a tender was awarded to IL&FS Company but was rejected after the company came into the list of bank defaulters.

The project of Zojila tunnel has been again terminated on 18 January, 2019 and the assurance of facilitate was just a word to satisfy the masses of the region.

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