Gadkari to initiate first blasting at 14.15-km Zozila Tunnel today

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    Gadkari to initiate first blasting at 14.15-km Zozila Tunnel today

    Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will initiate the first blasting for Zozila Tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh, on Thursday.

    The Zozila tunnel, which is likely to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel road at 14.15 kilometres, was initially conceived in 2004-05.This project holds strategic significance as the Zozila Pass is located at an altitude of 11,578 feet. During winter, it remains closed due to heavy snowfall, thereby cutting off the Ladakh region from Kashmir.

    The project was conceived to bring an all-round economic development and socio-cultural integration of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and was given to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in July 2016 for implementation on Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) model.

    The ambitious project, slated to make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches, got stalled for some period.Work was awarded to M/s ITNL (ILFS) at Rs 4,899.42 crore and approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was obtained for a total project cost of Rs 6,808.69 crore for completion within seven years.

    The contract agreement was signed on January 24, 2018. Work progressed up to July 2018 but the project was stuck due to financial problems faced by ILFS. The contract was terminated on January 15, 2019.

    In February 2020, Nitin Gadkari reviewed this whole project in detail and in order to reduce the cost and execute this project on priority, the matter was referred to an expert committee.

    Initially, the long-pending project involved a tunnel and an escape tunnel. After a comprehensive study of a European tunnel, the expert committee concluded that the escape tunnel was not required. This helped in reducing the total cost of the project and saving of Rs 3,835 crore.After expert committee deliberations and consequent to approval, NHIDCL (National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation) invited the bids in June this year.

    The capital cost of approach road from Zozila tunnel to Z-Morh tunnel (18.63 km) to make the road all-weather was worked out to be Rs 2335 crores as per the DPR. The construction cost of Zozila tunnel was earlier worked out at Rs 6575.85 crore and after considering the escalation at 5 per cent per annum and the total capital cost of the project was Rs 8,308 crore. The total integrated cost of the project including Zozila tunnel and approaches upto Z- Morh tunnel works out to Rs 10643 crore, an official release said.Comparing to the present cost of the integrated project, based on the tender received at Rs 4509.5 crore, the total capital cost of the project would be Rs. 6808.63 crore.

    “Re-modelling of the project and reaping the benefit of integrated project management by segregating the egress tunnel and utilizing the excavated rock material in the construction of approaches, generated from tunnel boring, resulted in an anticipated saving of Rs. 3835 crore besides resolving the issue of muck disposal to a great extent,” the release said.

    The project involves the construction of a tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass (presently motorable only for six months in a year) on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras and Kargil.”It is one of the most dangerous stretches in the world to drive a vehicle and this project is also geo-strategically sensitive,” the release said.

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    India
    (the headline, this story has not been published by Important India News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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