Bringing back his Kashmiri connection, general secretary Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi said that he is Kashmiri himself and wants to associate with the people of the State in resolving their difficulties. He expressed his desire to have life long relationship with people of Kashmir.
Speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of Z-Morh tunnel on Srinagar-Leh National Highway between Gagangir and Sonamarg this afternoon, Rahul said, “I myself am from Kashmiri family and want to have lifelong relations with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Rejecting the rumours of conflict between him and Omar Abdullah, Rahul Gandhi referred to the relations between Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru and between Rajiv Gandhi and Dr. Farooq Abdullah adding that he wants to strengthen these relations and extends hand to Omar Abdullah in a similar way as Jawaharlal Nehru extended it to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
“I extend hand to Omar Abdullah like Jawaharlal Nehru extended it to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for holistic and comprehensive development of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Emphasizing on need of involving youth of Jammu and Kashmir in development process, Rahul said he wants to share the difficulties of people. He said that people of Jammu and Kashmir also deserve all round development and economic welfare. “I want to hear you, understand your problems and work for their redressal”, he said adding that he had visited the State last year, came here again this year and would come again and again to meet the people.
Terming the foundation laying of Z-Morh tunnel as a first step towards opening Ladakh area to traffic throughout the year, Rahul said that the foundation for Zojila tunnel next year would be yet another important milestone to achieve the goal.
Speaking on the occasion Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Dr. C. P. Joshi said that the foundation of Zojila Tunnel will be laid next year adding that the Union Government would provide all help to the State in its development strategy.
Chief minster Omar Abdullah in his speech said that the dialogue process between Centre and the State should resume like restoration of Indo-Pak talks. He reiterated the necessity of addressing political issues of Jammu and Kashmir and emphasised on initiation of Centre-State internal dialogue.
“While we have to negotiate various challenges on development front and deal with militancy related issues, we have to focus on addressing political issues of the State simultaneously”, he said adding that he is advocating this aspect continuously for the larger interest of the Country and the State.
Expressing hope that UPA Government would focus on accelerating the process of addressing Jammu and Kashmir centric issues and initiate Centre-State internal dialogue, Omar said, “this would help in strengthening better State-Centre ties, unity and love between all regions of Jammu and Kashmir and permanent peace and progress in the region”.
The proposal of boring tunnels at Z-Morh and Zojila Pass is to make Ladakh area accessible throughout the year through an upgraded road communication and today’s foundation laying of Z-Morh tunnel is a part of the proposal. The tunnel between Sonamarg and Gagangir known as Z-Morh tunnel will be 2-lane 6.5 Kilometre long with a parallel escape tunnel. The total cost is estimated to be Rs. 2716 crore on the project. The carriageway width for tunnel will be 8 mtrs. and that of escape tunnel 3.5 mtrs. The project is expected to be completed in August 2018.