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Cabinet nod for Rs 6,809-cr Zojila tunnel project
P L UNIYAL
NEW DELHI, Jan 3: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday paved the way for construction of the Rs 6,809-crore strategic Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir. During winters, Srinagar, Kargil and Leh remain cut-off from the rest of the world due to heavy snowfall and this project will provide all-weather connectivity to the region.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with Parallel Escape (Exress) Tunnel excluding approaches on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A at Km 95 and at Km 118 in Jammu and Kashmir on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode,” the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.

Situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, the pass remains closed during winters (December to April). Heavy snowfall and avalanches cut off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.

The project will also bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions, the statement said. “The project has strategic and socio-economic importance and shall be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.

The construction period of the project is seven years and it will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). “The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4,899.42 crore. The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6,808.69 crore. It includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years,” the statement added.

“This project along with other ongoing projects like 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel at Gagangir would ensure safe, fast and cheap connectivity between the two regions of Kashmir and Ladakh,” the statement said.

The project will further increase the employment potential for the local labourers, it added. On completion, it will lead to an enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to National market and the beautiful region is able to receive round the year tourist traffic, the government said.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said that the government is committed to undertaking the project as people on Leh and Ladakh region face a severe crisis during winters and they are cut off from the rest of the country.

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. The ministry, however, had denied the charges.


News Updated at : Friday, January 5, 2018
 
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