The Rs. 2700-crore tunnel is the first of the two tunnels to be constructed on the Srinagar-Kargil-Ladakh stretch

The first initiative to provide connectivity throughout the year with Ladakh, which remains severed from the country for at least six wintery months, will be taken up on October 4.

Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, will lay the foundation stone of a 6.5 km-long tunnel, popularly referred to as Z-Morh, the plans for which were finalised by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, C. P. Joshi, on Thursday.

The function will be attended by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, and Union Ministers, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Farooq Abdullah, and Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Saifuddin Soz.

The Rs. 2,700-crore tunnel is the first of the two tunnels to be constructed to connect the Srinagar-Kargil-Ladakh stretch, the strategic importance of which was underlined during the Kargil war of 1999.

The tunnel under consideration, located in Ganderbal district, will connect Srinagar with Sonamarg, and the second tunnel of 12.5-km length — Zojila — will be kick-started in July 2013.

The bids for the project, to be built under Build-Operate-Transfer mode (Annuity), will be taken up on October 15.

Apart from unfavourable climate and heavy snow, the stretch is frequently affected by major avalanches.

The new route will help the region and its people, and also sustain the troops posted in the Ladakh region.