Gadkari, NHIDCL top brass sign agreement
*NITI Aayog to support infra development
JAMMU, Jan 17: The Central Government today entered into an agreement for construction of 6.5 kilometers long Z-Morh tunnel on Srinagar-Leh National Highway at the cost of Rs 2378.76 crore which will be completed in 3.5 years.
A concessional agreement for construction of the tunnel was signed today in New Delhi in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Gen (Retd) Dr V K Singh, Secretary Road Transport & Highways Sanjiv Ranjan.
Other senior officers from the Ministry and National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) were present on the occasion of signing of the concessional agreement in the Union capital.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Keshav Kumar Pathak, Managing Director of NHIDCL exchanged agreement documents with Sista Prasad, Executive Vice President of the concessionaire for construction of Z-Morh Tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir in the presence of Nitin Gadkari, Gen (Retd) Dr V K Singh and Sanjiv Ranjan in New Delhi today.
“The project includes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel with approaches on National Highway-1 at Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road from 61 kilometers point to 89.3 kilometers on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) Annuity basis,’’ sources said.
They added that the 2-lane bi-directional tunnel with parallel escape tunnel will be completed in 3.5 years at a cost of Rs 2378.76 crore.
“The concessionaire has been awarded DLP Period /Operation & Maintenance Period of 15 years from the date of completion,’’ sources said, adding the earlier contract is being foreclosed in terms of Ministry ‘Guidelines Principles for Resolution of Stuck National Highway Projects’ dated March 9, 2019.
Sources said bids for the project were re-invited on June 24, 2019 with a TPC of Rs. 2378.76 crore on BOT (Annuity) basis. Four bids were received, and were opened on August 29, 2019.
After receiving necessary administrative approval and financial sanction, the project award was sanctioned by the Ministry on December 17, 2019. The LoA for the project was subsequently issued on December 19, 2019 to M/s APCO Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
Construction of Z-Morh tunnel, which has been a long pending demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh, will ensure all weather road connectivity to the newly created Union Territory of Ladakh.
“Construction of Z-Morh tunnel will not only benefit the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh but is also very vital from strategic point of view as India shares Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Easter Ladakh and Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Kargil,’’ sources said, adding the closure of Srinagar-Leh National Highway for about five months of winter badly affects movement of troops and their logistics to Ladakh, which have to be airlifted to Leh.
Earlier also several initiatives had been taken and announcements made by the previous Central Governments but construction of Z-Morh tunnel remained elusive. People of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were now confident that construction of the tunnel will be taken to logical conclusion with the signing of today’s agreement.
Meanwhile, in another important initiative to promote the development of key infrastructure sectors in the newly constituted Union Territory of Ladakh, NITI Aayog today entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UT’s administration.
Under this MoU, NITI Aayog will be supporting the UT’s administration through its key initiative ‘‘Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure Projects (D3S-i)’’.
The MoU was executed in the presence of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Joint Secretary MC Jauhari. It was signed by NITI Aayog Senior Adviser Dr Yogesh Suri and Adviser to the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Umang Narula.
The partnership lays thrust on the identification of high-impact priority projects, expedited project implementation, addressing structural-level issues and creating unique models of development for the Union Territory of Ladakh.
NITI Aayog has committed to assist the UT’s administration in creating a strategic plan for identifying prioritized infrastructure projects and by providing end-to-end transaction-management support for the identified projects. A dedicated team of professionals is expected to be stationed at Ladakh for identification and development of projects in the UT, especially in tourism, solar energy and basic infrastructure, sources said.