Tuesday, 18 Feb 2020

Z-Morh tunnel in J-K will ensure all-weather connectivity, says NHIDCL MD

By Joymala Bagchi, New Delhi, Jan 17: The Z-Morh tunnel, a very important and strategic one, will help all-weather connectivity in the area along with Zojila tunnel, said KK Pathak, Managing Director, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) here on Friday.

"The Z-Morh is a very important and strategic tunnel, which has a lot of bearing on the forthcoming Zojila tunnel. Z-Morh and Zojila tunnels will help in ensuring all-weather connectivity in the area," Pathak told ANI.

NHIDCL and the concessionaire APCO Amarnathji Tunnel Way Private Limited signed the agreement for Z-Morh tunnel on Friday in the presence of Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

This is a private participation project where the government will only bear the cost of the annuity, which is Rs 2,970 crore per six months for 15 years. The project is expected to be completed within three and a half years and will have have the cost amounting to Rs 23 crore.

The agreement has been signed for construction, operation and maintenance of Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir including approaches on the National Highway 1 (Srinagar Sonamarg Gumri Road) (61 to 89.30 km) in J and K on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) annuity basis.

Both the tunnels are contiguous to each other and together they will reach full utilisation. The full-fledged work will start only after the snow melts around March. However, the partially constructed place is being maintained.

In 2012, the project started with the Border Road Organisation (BRO). It was, later, shifted to the Ministry and then to the NHIDCL.

The project's original concessionaire was Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL and FS). However, owing to its financial issues the project was stalled.

Pathak said "We had to re-tender the whole project. Today we have selected the concessionaire. The agreement has been signed. The entire cost and the risk of cost escalation will be borne by the concessionaire."

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.

It will be a two-lane and bi-directional tunnel with a parallel escape tunnel (6.50 km long).

(ANI)