You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » News
Business Standard

May alter design to complete Zojila tunnet at zero cost escalation: Gadkari

Stalled for six years, tunnel is strategic as Zojila Pass is at altitude of 11,578 ft on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway and remains closed in winter due to heavy snowfall, cutting off Ladakh from Kashmir

Topics
Zojila tunnel

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

gadkari

The strategic for all-year connectivity between Leh and Srinagar may undergo some design changes to prevent cost escalation as the government plans to complete the project at the earlier estimated cost of about Rs 6,800 crore, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said.

The tunnel project, stalled for about six years, holds strategic significance as Zojila Pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall, cutting off Ladakh region from Kashmir.

"We are planning to make some design changes that may include doing away with escape tunnel and instead (have) alternative tunnels to cross from one side to the other as it will be my endeavour to prevent cost escalation and build it at the previous estimated cost of Rs 6,800 crore," Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari told PTI.

Though the revised project cost estimate of a little over Rs 8,000 crore has been sent to the Cabinet, "we are deliberating on minor design changes to prevent cost escalation," the minister said.

"Besides the escape tunnel, we can do away with vertical shafts not compromising with safety," he said, adding that rebidding for the project was expected in a month or two.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in May 2018 laid the foundation stone for the Rs 6,800 crore project, billed as the Asia's longest bi-directional tunnel, in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, barely months after the foundation, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) on January 15, 2019 terminated the contract awarded to troubled IL&FS group company IL&FS Transportation after it abandoned the project citing financial problems.

"The project which was earlier constructed on hybrid annuity mode will now be converted into EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode," Gadkari said.

The cancellation of the award in January last year was the second time NHIDCL had scrapped the contract for the 14.15-km tunnel project which would cut down the 3.5-hour long drive through the mountainous Zojila Pass to just 15 minutes.

The corporation had earlier cancelled the bid of IRB Infrastructure. IL&FS Transportation in 2017 emerged as the lowest bidder in the rebidding process.

Unveiling a plaque for commencement of work for the tunnel, Modi had said, "is not a mere tunnel but a modern day marvel."

The Cabinet on January 3, 2018 had approved the project with Parallel Escape (Egress) tunnel between Baltal and Minamarg on the Srinagar-Leh section of NH-1A at a total cost of Rs 6,800 crore.

The project was expected to be completed in seven years.

On March 1, 2016, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had ordered "re-bidding" for the project, which had been awarded to IRB Infrastructure.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting, chaired by Gadkari, after Congress leader Digvijay Singh had alleged that guidelines were violated while awarding the contract.

The original plans of the tunnel included fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, overheight vehicle detection and tunnel radio system.

Besides, it included pedestrian cross passages at every 250 metres and motorable cross passages and lay-bys at every 750 metres, as well as emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets at every 125 metres.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Sun, February 16 2020. 12:36 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
.