Zojila project: Design changes to dodge cost escalation
New Delhi, Feb
16: The strategic Zojila tunnel 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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
which was earlier constructed on hybrid annuity mode will now be converted into
EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode,” Gadkari said.
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.
had earlier cancelled the bid of IRB Infrastructure. IL&FS Transportation
in 2017 emerged as the lowest bidder in the rebidding process.
plaque for commencement of work for the tunnel, Modi had said, “Zojila tunnel
is not a mere tunnel but a modern day marvel.”
The Cabinet on
January 3, 2018 had approved the Zojila tunnel 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
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.
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.