New Delhi, Jan 03: The government on Wednesday approved the strategic Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Kashmir valley and Ladakh, which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall.
Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.
“Cabinet approves Zozilla tunnel project, Jal Vikas Marg project,” an official source said here after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
IL&FS Transportation last year in July had said it has emerged as the lowest bidder for Rs 4,899 crore Zojila pass tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2016, the road transport and highways ministry had ordered “rebidding” for the project awarded to IRB Infrastructure.
“We wish to inform that the company has emerged as the lowest bidder for the aforesaid (Zojila tunnel) project. The company had quoted an amount of Rs 4,899.42 crore to be constructed in a period of 2,555 days (7 years),” IL&FS Transportation has said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said, “We understand the plight of the people in Leh and Ladakh region who face severe crisis during winters when they are cut off from the rest of India for six months. We are committed to undertaking the project.”
On March 1, 2016, the transport ministry 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 alleged that guidelines were violated while awarding the contract.
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ASI among three cops injured in Rajbagh grenade blast
Srinagar, Jan 17: Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police and two traffic cop were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh area of Srinagar city in Central Kashmir on Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that suspected militants lobbed a grenade on police party near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh.
In the blast, three policemen including an ASI of police and two traffic policemen sustained splinter injuries and were evacuated to SMHS hospital for treatment.
The injured has been identified as Iqbal Singh (ASI of JKAP 14 Bn) and traffic policemen Haris Manzoor (SPO) and Sanullah (Head Constable).
While ASI Iqbal has sustained splinter injuries to both of his legs, Haris suffered an injury to the back side of his neck and Sanullah suffered injuries in his right leg.
SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray confirmed the attack and subsequent injuries to the ASI and two traffic cops.
Soon after the attack, the government forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the attackers.
Security forces have launched a massive search operation in Rajbagh and adjoining areas near Zero Bridge after three police personnel including assistant sub-inspector were injured in a grenade attack by the terrorists on Thursday.
Homes and hotels in the area were searched frisking was also carried out. It was the first major terrorist attack in the Srinagar city this year. The injured cops are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibly of the grenade attack on the forces’ party at Raj Bagh area of Srinagar.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement claimed that two forces personnel were killed and 6 critically injured in the attack.
An ASI of police and two traffic cops were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge, Raj Bagh in Thursday afternoon.
2018 has been remarkable year for forces: Army commander
Srinagar, Jan 17: A top army commander on Thursday described 2018 as “remarkable year” for government forces, saying that more than 250 militants were killed, 54 others were arrested and four others surrendered in Kashmir Valley.
“The year 2018 has been a remarkable year for armed forces on the security front. As per the record of last ten years, army along with other forces have neutralized many militants. Many militants have surrendered under pressure and many others were arrested alive,” said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC-in-C Northern Command told reporters after inaugurating Kalai Bridge constructed by Border Roads Organization.
“More than 250 militants were killed, 54 others arrested and four others have surrendered,” he said, adding, “This speaks about the strength of our security establishment,” the officer said.
He said that the army was giving “befitting reply” to Pakistan army along the Line of Control whenever there were instances of any ceasefire violation or snipping.
“As per wireless and other intercepts, Pakistan army and militants suffered a huge loss in our retaliatory action.”
The Kalai Bridge spans over Suran River and connects Kalai area to Chandak area in Poonch district. During the inaugural function, the Army Commander addressed the gathering of Army, GREF and local residents and said that the Kalai bridge is an important milestone towards enhancing the road communication in the area.
“The bridge is an important strategic asset as it enhances the movement of military equipment and troops in a faster time frame,” he said. The Indian Army and BRO have been working towards infrastructure development in the remote and far-flung areas and improving the road connectivity, he said.
“The bridge will reduce traffic congestion in the city and ease out inconvenience caused to the people specially those moving towards Budha Amarnath Shrine in Mandi as it reduces the travelling time considerably.”
The Army Commander appreciated the contribution of the District Administration for their support and cooperation during the construction of the bridge.
Beg to differ: Omar Abdullah
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday lashed out at the Northern Command Chief Lt General Ranbir Singh, on his “great year for security forces” remark.
Taking to Twitter, Abdullah wrote, the compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration.
“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Abdullah wrote.
Abdullah was reacting to a statement by Gen Singh on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Kalai bridge in Poonch district. Gen Singh said 2018 had been a great year for the security forces as they had managed to kill 250 terrorists.
Heartening to meet Kashmiri students in Bangladesh: Shahid Afridi
Srinagar, Jan 17: Star Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi on Thursday met Kashmiri students in Bangladesh and interacted with them.
Afridi said that it was heartening to see Kashmiri students in Bangladesh who are studying medicine.“Heartening meeting with some Kashmiri students who are in Bangladesh on scholarship, studying Medicine. Keep up the hard work and making your people proud!,” he tweeted.
Afridi in the past has been in controversies over Kashmiri over his support to the Kashmir cause. He has been vocal about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future.