Work on Udhampur- Banihal stretches of NH likely to begin by Oct

Work on four-laning of Udhampur- Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of the  National Highway is likely to commence  by first week of October this year as the formal proposal for estimate revision   has been approved by  the Expenditure Committee of  Finance, Government of India.
Following approval by the Expenditure Committee, the proposal is all set  to get formal nod of the Cost Committee by next week and then final clearance by the Union Cabinet before ending of  August  thus paving way for allotment of the job to the bidding contractors for commencing work, official sources informed the Excelsior.
Work on Udhampur- Banihal stretches of NH likely to begin by OctAs the Central Ministry of Surface Transport has informally agreed for cost revision and enhancement of the project estimate, the Union Cabinet is understood  to accord its formal approval soon after the completion of ongoing Autumn session of the Lok Sabha,  sources added.
Pertinent to mention that National Highway Authority of India had  approached the Union Ministry of Surface Transport for revision of the estimates for four-laning of  Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of the National Highway as the bidding contractors  offered  higher rates for the project works.  Despite proper advertisement of the tenders,  the response was inadequate as only two firms applied for Ramban-Banihal project and three for Udhampur-Ramban project.
The lowest rate for four-lanning work of Udhampur-Ramban stretch, offered by  Gammon India Ltd,  was   Rs 1710 crores – 28 percent more than the estimated cost of Rs 1331 crores while  the lowest rate offered by  HCC for Ramban -Banihal project,  was  Rs 1783 crores-  44 percent above the estimate project cost of Rs 1239 crores,  sources explained.
In view of the inadequate response and much higher rates than the estimate cost vis-à-vis delay in the commencement of projects,  the NHAI took up the  matter with Union Minister of Surface Transport suggesting revision of  rates as the only option for starting work on four-laning of these two stretches.
After thorough  deliberations, sources said, the Expenditure Committee of Finance, headed by Secretary Expenditure, Government of India, has finally accorded its approval to the proposal for estimate revision enhancing the project cost by  28 percent for Udhampur-Ramban stretch and 44 percent for Ramban-Banihal stretch.  Now  the  proposal  is being forwarded to the Cost Committee, which is also likely to give its  nod since approval of Expenditure Committee was the main issue  while the Surface Transport Ministry has already expressed its informal consent to the proposal, sources explained and added that the work on four-laning of Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of the National Highway is therefore likely to begin by first week of October.
It may be recalled that the widening of these two stretches is part of the NHAI’s flagship project of four-laning Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The NHAI has divided the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway four-laning project into sub-projects, which include widening of Srinagar-Banihal road (67.7 kms), Qazigund-Banihal road (15.25 kms), Ramban-Banihal road (36 kms), Udhampur-Ramban road (43 kms) and widening of Jammu-Udhampur road (65 kms).
The stretch between Udhampur-Ramban has been further divided into Udhampur-Chenani road, Chenani-Nashri tunnel (12 kms) and Nashri-Ramban road. The widening of 36 km long Ramban-Banihal stretch of the National Highway will comprise six small tunnels.