The project cost for the 14.2 km Zojila tunnel connecting Srinagar to Leh has surged by Rs 1,600 crore to Rs 8,400 crore, which reflects the increase in project expenses over the last two years.
The project’s revised cost committee approved the amount in the last week of June and has sent the same to the road transport and highways ministry , as per a report by The Economic Times.
The deadline for filing bids has been extended to July 09 from June 26, owing to the pending cost approval, the paper added.
Construction work on the 14.2 km long Zojila tunnel project has been stucksince May 2018. The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), which oversees project development in regions that share international borders, had invited fresh bids in March after its deal with IL&FS Transportation Network (ITNL) was dismissed.
The government terminated ITNL’s contract after IL&FS reported consistent default on debt-payment since September 2018 and has an overall debt obligation of approximately Rs 91,000 crore.
IL&FS development arm IL&FS Transportation Network (ITNL) had won the project over Larsen & Toubro, Reliance Infrastructure and Jaiprakash Ventures in January 2018. After the dismissal of its services, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asked NHIDCL to encash the security amount of Rs 122 crore submitted by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services’ (IL&FS).
Asia’s longest and strategic bi-directional tunnel, the Zojila project will provide all-weather connectivity between J&K’s Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. It will cut down the time taken to cross Zojila pass from the present three and a half hours to just 15 minutes.
The pass, situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, remains closed due to heavy snowfall, effectively cutting off the Ladakh region from Kashmir for six months.