The Indian government is late in approving a proposed $1.6-billion, 14-kilometer-long twin-tunnel project in Kashmir. The project was originally due for a decision on Oct. 17, though expectations at the time were that the Union Government would clear the project.

The tunnels, when completed, will become the highest mountain passes in India. It is a vital road-link project that will connect the strategically important region of Kargil and Leh to the rest of India through the proposed all-weather tunnel in Kashmir.

Currently, for about six months during the winter season, these two regions remain cut off from Srinagar and the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall and inclement weather. The Zojila tunnel is located at an altitude of about 12,000 feet on National Highway 1.

The Zojila tunnel, along with another 6.5-km-long tunnel at Z-Morh in Sonmarg, which was cleared for construction last year, will provide road connectivity to these areas all year.