File photo used for representational purposes only.
NEW DELHI: The work for Zojila
Jammu and Kashmir
will start on Thursday after a gap of nearly 29 months with Union minister
initiating the first blasting for this strategically important project.
The 14.5 km long tunnel and its approach road, which will provide seamless connectivity to Ladakh throughout the year, will reduce the current travel time of more than 3.5 hours to just 15 minutes. The road transport and highways ministry said the government has saved nearly Rs 4,000 crore by re-modelling of the project and with the provision for utilising the excavated rock material in construction of approaches.
The project was recently bid out to Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering. It was earlier awarded to IL&FS in 2018, but the contract had to be terminated after the company went bust. Prime Minister
had laid the foundation stone in May, 2019.
“After re-modelling of the project and reaping the benefit of integrated project management by segregating the egress tunnel and utilising the excavated rock material in construction of approaches, generated from tunnel boring, has resulted in an anticipated saving of Rs 3835 crore. This also addresses the issue of muck disposal to a great extent,” a ministry spokesperson said.
In February 2020, Gadkari had reviewed the project and referred the matter to an expert group under the chairmanship of director general of roads, I K Pandey, to see how the cost could be reduced. The expert group had suggested modalities of project configuration and implementation to see that the project gets completed in the least possible time and cost.
The ministry adopted construction of two-lane bi-directional single tube tunnel without parallel egress/ escape passage and reduction in construction shafts from three to two and the design speed at 80 kmph. It also adopted construction of an 18 km approach road from end of Z-Morh tunnel to the start of Zojila tunnel with avalanche protection structures to make it an all-weather connection between the two tunnels.
The tunnel will have safety features such as emergency lay-bys at intervals of 750 meters and side-walks on both sides of the carriageway. Emergency call niches and hydrant niches will be situated at intervals of 125 meters. There will be manual fire-alarm push buttons and portable fire extinguishers at the disposal of drivers. Surveillance cameras will be installed all along the tunnel and it will have automatic fire detection and suppression systems.