NHIDCL to build five tunnels worth Rs23,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir
The five tunnels to be built by NHIDCL will make most of Jammu and Kashmir an all-weather region by 2024
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New Delhi: The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corp. (NHIDCL), a public sector company under the road ministry, has been entrusted to build five tunnels worth Rs23,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with all-weather access by 2024.
The five tunnels that would be built are Pir-Ki-Gali Tunnel on National Highway-244, Vailoo Tunnel at Sinthan Pass, Daranga Tunnel at Shudh Mahadev, Zojila tunnel at Zojila Pass and Z-Morah tunnel. All the projects would be undertaken on engineering procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
According to the blueprint prepared by NHIDCL, Pir-Ki-Gali tunnel will be 8.5 km long and will cost around Rs4,200 crore and will go from Baltal to Mini Marg, while Vailoo ( 8-10km) and Daranga (4.5 km) tunnels will cost Rs4,000 crore and Rs2,500 crore, respectively. The work for 14-km long Zojila tunnel will cost Rs8,000 crore and the PSU is giving a special incentive to the project concessionaire of 10% bonus if the project is completed within six years as compared to stipulated time of seven years. The Z-Morah tunnel which will be on Srinagar-Kargil road and 6.5 km long will cost around Rs4,000 crore with a deadline of 2020. The deadline for the projects are: Zojila-2024; Pir-Ki-Gali-2022; Vailoo- 2021; Z-Morah-2020; and Daranga-2021.
A senior government official on the condition of anonymity said the move is very important as the infrastructure is required in the region especially for the defence and regional people as the roads are blocked for five months from November to March every year due to heavy snowfall. Besides, the tunnels will also help to avert road accidents due to avalanches as all the five tunnels are in avalanche-prone area.
Zojila tunnel which will provide round the year connectivity to the Ladakh region with the rest of country till 2016 was entrusted with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). However, despite several attempts and amid controversy and allegation in tender allocation of this project the bidding process was cancelled and the project was entrusted to NHIDCL last year. The project of Zojila tunnel was announced by minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on 7 November, 2015.
NHIDCL managing director Anand Kumar confirmed the move and said, “Out of these five projects, three are in detailed project report stage, while work on Z-Morah tunnel has already started. We hope the work on Zojila tunnel will also start in the first quarter of the next fiscal.” He added that considering the importance of all weather connectivity, it would be endeavour of NHIDCL to complete these five projects within prescribed time.