January 2016 News

IRB Bags Rs 10,050-cr Order To Build Zojila Pass Tunnel In J&K

4 January 2016

New Delhi: IRB Infrastructure will build Southeast Asia's longest tunnel at Zojila pass in Jammu & Kashmir at an estimated cost of Rs 10,050 crore to provide all weather connectivity to the Leh-Ladakh region. Zojila pass, situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall and avalanches, cutting the Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir. 'IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, one of the largest BOT road developers in India, has received a Letter of Award from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORT&H) for the construction, operation and maintenance of the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia, Zojila Pass Tunnel, in Jammu and Kashmir,' the company said in a statement. It is the biggest national highway project awarded in India in terms of project cost with a tunnel length spanning 14.08 km and costing of Rs 10,050 crore. It will include approaches on NH-1 (Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road) in Jammu and Kashmir on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (annuity) basis, the statement said. The project has a strategic and socio-economic importance as it will provide much needed all weather connectivity between Jammu & Kashmir and Leh-Ladakh, which remains cut off during winter due to heavy snowfall, it said. The order also involves construction of tunnel spanning length of 14.08 km and approach road of 10.8 km with three vertical ventilation shafts, snow gallery of 700 meters and avalanche protection measures. 'We are happy to get the project and we are confident that our work force will meet the challenges of the Himalayan terrain and build the tunnel well in time,' IRB Infrastructure Chairman and Managing Director Virendra Mhaiskar said. 'The concession period for the project is 22 years. IRB Infra will receive semi-annual annuity of Rs 981 crore from commencing after completion of construction of the project which would be received twice in a year till the end of the concession period,' he said. By bagging this contract, IRB expands its base to the ninth state in the country and the company order book size swells to Rs 16,430 crore. The tunnel project is part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Rs 80,000-crore development package for Jammu and Kashmir, which he had announced in November. The package included Rs 42,611 crore for development of roads and highways in the state. The highways packaged included 'construction of Zojila tunnel' as per the PMO. Last year, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had told PTI: 'We are committed to all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir. We will begin work soon on Rs 10,000-crore Zojila pass tunnel, which would be even bigger than the 9-km long Chenani-Nashri tunnel in the state, which is India's longest road tunnel at present.