New Delhi, Jan 17: The government on Friday awarded the Jammu and Kashmir”s crucial Z-Morh Tunnel project, languishing for long after it was abandoned, to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway, which will be built at a cost of Rs 2,379 crore, a senior official said on Friday.
The pact between the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway was signed in presence of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V K Singh.
The Z-Morh Tunnel along with the Zojila tunnel are designed to provide all-weather road connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir parts which remain closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall. The project is likely to be completed by 2023.
The project was earlier allotted to Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), but the contractor had abandoned it after IL&FS Group faced financial crisis. The work on it has begun in 2012.
“National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) has awarded the Rs 2,379 crore Z-Morh Tunnel to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway Pvt Ltd,” NHIDCL Managing Director K K Pathak told PTI.
The Z-Morh Tunnel project was awarded on build-operate-transfer (annuity) basis with concession period of 20 years including 5 years of construction period to IL&FS but due to financial crisis of IL&FS group of companies, the concessionaire stopped all work w.e.f July 2018.
“This is an old and ongoing project. Earlier it was with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) then it came to the Ministry and finally to NHIDCL. We started the work when the IL&FS left the project and finally we retendered it and now the new bidder is on board. This is a sort of private partnership project and is an annuity based project,” he said.
Pathak said NHIDCL will give an annuity of Rs 297 crore to the contractor every six months and the concessionaire is mandated to complete the project in 3.5 years.
“The tunnel is in a very strategic, important place and it has got a lot of bearing in the forthcoming Zojilla tunnel, which is also being taken by the NHIDCL. Together, these two tunnels — the Z-Morh and Zozilla — will help in all-weather connectivity in that area,” he said.
About the partially constructed structure, he said NHIDCL will ensure that it is not damaged and a full-fledged work on the project will start after the snow melts in March.
“By the time the concessionaire will be fully mobilised. Today, the agreement has been signed and the developer has to achieve the financial closure. Once that is achieved we will start the work,” he said and added that both the tunnels are contiguous to each other.
“The concessionaire is supposed to complete it by 2023. The developer has to achieve the financial closure within next month,” he said adding that the cost and the risk associated with the project is totally borne by the concessionaire.
Z-Morh Tunnel would provide all-weather road connectivity to Sonamarg tourist spot in Jammu and Kashmir which mostly remains closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall in Gagenger area.
Bids for the project were re-invited on June 24, 2019 with a TPC of Rs 2,378.76 crore on BOT – build operate transfer – (Annuity) basis, he said.
The project iincludes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel including approaches on NH-1 at Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road from 61 km to 89.30 km on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) Annuity basis.
The developer has been awarded maintenance Period of 15 years from the completion date.
The earlier contract is being foreclosed in terms of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways ”Guidelines Principles for Resolution of Stuck National Highway Projects”.
Earlier, the tunnel project was awarded on BOT (annuity) basis with concession period of 20 years including 5 years of construction period to IL&FS group.
Bukhari’s ‘Apni Party’ constitution in making
Srinagar, Feb 23: Former minister Altaf Bukhari and his team are in the process of framing the constitution of ‘Apni Party’, the third front being formed to kick-start the stalled political process in Kashmir, courtesy Centre’s detention of major political players.
“The draft constitution has entered its final stage and is awaiting approval. We will declare our party anytime as all the formalities have been completed,” Bukhari said in an exclusive chat with The Kashmir Monitor.
‘Apni Party’ is meant to work as a third front to resume political activities in Kashmir at a time when three former CMs and other major political leaders are facing PSAs and detention since August when J&K simultaneously lost its statehood and special status.
Bukhari, a former PDP Minister, has been busy lately in garnering support of those political leaders, who managed to remain free, possibly in lieu of their silence.
On Saturday, Bukhari met BJP National General Secretary, Ram Madhav in Gulmarg, who, interestingly, a day after said that he wants the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to become conducive for normal political activity to resume.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, senior Congress leader and former MLA Bandipora Usman Majeed resigned from the party to join hands with Bukhari.
Besides Usman, Bukhari’s team, so far, includes former MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir, and former PDP leaders Dilwar Mir, Javaid Beigh, Noor Muhammad Shiekh, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Abdul Majeed Paddar, and Abdul Raheem Rather.
The buzz of a ‘third front’ was further confirmed when in January these former MLAs met Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu and envoys of 15 countries during the latter’s visit to Kashmir.
Bukhari said his party will differentiate itself from the mainstream parties through its “agenda of working to solve the issues of people”.
“After August 5, people lost their hopes as economy, development took a back seat. Our party will raise issues like providing domicile rights over land and jobs, releasing of political leadership from detention, protecting J&K Bank’s autonomy,” he said.
“We are not hereditary politicians but common people. Apni Party is a party run by common people for common people. When we thought of its name, we considered interests of all the regions,” he said.
Congress leader Majeed also confirmed his association with Bukhari and said they are going to work together “for betterment of people.”
“Yes, I have resigned from Congress as the party has a specific agenda which is no different from that of BJP. I just needed a free space to work for the betterment of people and decided to quit the party. We are many former MLAs who are with Altaf Sahab,” he said.
Usman quits Cong to join Bukhari
Srinagar, Feb 23: Congress leader and former Bandipora legislator Usman Abdul Majid Sunday announced his resignation from the party.
Usman is one of the nearly two dozen leaders who have joined hands to structure a new political podium in Jammu and Kashmir led by former minister Altaf Bukhari, which would likely be formed in the first week of March.
Usman has announced his resignation during a convention in Bandipora on Sunday.
“Yes, I am resigning from the party because Congress is no different agenda as it has its own particular agenda. I want to work freely for my people,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Asked if he was joining Altaf’s upcoming party, Usman said: “Yes I am with Altaf Sa’ab.”
Usman said that he will send his resignation to the party on Monday.
Addressing the convention, Usman lashed out at Congress saying it was is “because of it that the people of Kashmir have been suffering from last 70-years.”
“This party is behind the sufferings of Kashmir people,” he said.
Referring to Altaf Bukhari’s ‘Apni Party, Usman said the new party will be floated very soon.
“Regional parties including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party misled people here over self-rule and autonomy. People in Kashmir are suffering because of their misdeeds,” he said.
He accused Congress of ‘double speak’ and claimed the party leadership was never sincere to the people of the Jammu and Kashmir.
“They would speak one language in Delhi, other at Jammu and quite contrasting in Srinagar,” he said.
Usman said like-minded people have already joined hands for the new party.
“The party which is being floated is not backed by BJP. Linking our new regional force with BJP is totally baseless and concocted,” he said.
Want normal political activity to resume: Madhav
Srinagar, Feb 23: BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav on Sunday said that everyone in his party wants the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to become conducive for “normal political activity” to resume.
“Keeping the situation of J&K in mind, the government has invoked certain Sections for the detention of some leaders there. When the situation improves and things normalise, everybody will be allowed to do their political activity. We all want the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to become conducive for normal political activity to resume,” Madhav told ANI.
Ram Madhav’s response comes days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that he was praying for the early release of the three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir who are currently under detention.
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