Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the centre will invest close to ₹4 lakh crore in highway projects in Jammu and Kashmir, which will include an upgrade of the existing roads, construction of alternative roads and tunnels.

Gadkari, who reviewed the progress on the strategic Zojila tunnel (₹4600 crore, 14.5 km) connecting the Srinagar with Ladakh also urged the contractor implementing the project—Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd—to finish the project by December 2023, which is almost three years before its scheduled completion in 2026.

The all-weather Zojila tunnel will facilitate the vehicular movement to the Ladakh sector for the army while also giving a fillip to tourism in the region. Gadkari also reviewed the ₹2300 cr Z-Morh tunnel on the Ladakh highway connecting Srinagar and Sonmarg.

In his address to the media, Gadkari said, "Projects worth ₹1 lakh crore are currently being implemented in J&K. More projects will be identified in the region to boost tourism and the state's economy. In all project highways construction worth ₹2.5 lakh crore will be done by 2024. This will solve the connectivity problem in the state."

"In 2014, the length of National Highways in J&K was 1695 kilometres. Now it stands at 2664 km Additional projects will be identified," Gadkari said.

Gadkari said that additional investments will go on building tunnels on the highways. "In J&K, a total of 20 tunnels (32 km) are being constructed on various stretches. In Ladakh, eleven tunnels (20 km) are being constructed. The total investment in tunnels will be to the tune of ₹1,40,000 crore," Gadkari added.

When asked about the source and model of funding, Gadkari told that the government does not lack funds for infrastructure development. "NHAI has been raising funds and global fund houses have evinced interest in India's road sector. Also, the centre has committed that based on the progress of work, additional funding will be released."

Gadkari said that the Centre is committed to reducing the time taken on the 230 km Jammu-Srinagar highway to three hours from nine hours currently in the next two years.

Several key road projects going on in J&K—such as the expansion of Jammu-Srinagar highway, Jammu-Srinagar alternative connectivity, Srinagar-Leh and alternative route for the same, Jammu-Aknoor-Poonch section and Srinagar-Shopian.

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