Project to ensure all-year connectivity to Ladakh
In a major push to provide all-weather road connectivity to the isolated Ladakh region, IRB Infrastructure Developers has been entrusted with the task of constructing Rs 10,050-crore Zojila tunnel on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway in Jammu and Kashmir.
The company has received a letter of award (LoA) from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, headed by Nitin Gadkari, for the construction, operation and maintenance of the longest tunnel in South-East Asia, Zojilla tunnel, in Jammu and Kashmir, IRB Infrastructure Developers said in a statement issued here.
“It is the biggest national highway project awarded in India in terms of the project cost of Rs 10,050 crore,” an official spokesperson for the company quoted Chairman and Managing Director Virendra Mhaiskar here.
The scope of the project includes constructing approaches on NH-1 (Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road) on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) (annuity) basis.
“This project has a strategic and socio-economic importance as it will provide the much-needed all-weather connectivity between the Kashmir valley and Ladakh, which remains cut-off during winter due to heavy snowfall and hence assumes national importance,” Mhaiskar said.
“Besides a tunnel length spanning 14.08 km, the project also involves construction of a 10.8-km approach road with three vertical ventilation shafts, 700-m snow gallery and avalanche protection measures,” the spokesperson said.
The construction of the tunnel is scheduled to be completed in seven years and the concession period is 22 years. The funding for the construction of the Zojilla tunnel was recently announced in the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan for Jammu and Kashmir. In the package, Rs 9,090 was earmarked for the project.
We had exclusively reported in its December 30, 2015, edition that the Centre had taken the first step for the construction of the Zojila tunnel connecting Kashmir’s Sonamarg with the Gumri area in Kargil district by inviting global bids for expression of interest (EOI).
Meanwhile, the work is already in progress on another tunnel near Z-Morh, 20 km away from the Zojilla pass, on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway.
Coming up at a cost of Rs 2716.90 crore, the Z-Morh tunnel is expected to be completed by 2017. The 6.5-km tunnel would connect Gagangeer directly with Sonamarg.
Once the two tunnels are put in place, the journey time from Kashmir to Ladakh would be reduced drastically and the entire stretch would become motorable throughout the year.