Ministry of Road and Highways has cancelled IRB Infrastructure Developers’ tender of constructing all weather tunnel under Zoji La, which was to connect Ladakh with Kashmir throughout the year. This step will further delay the tunnel project and there is no word yet if and when there will be new bidding for the project.
Zoji La Tunnel fails to receive even a single bid in the fifth round of bidding, the government would have to fund it 100%, in order to build it.
Construction of the strategically important, all-weather tunnel at Zojila Pass on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway is likely to be undertaken with full government funding. The project, aimed at providing round-the-year connectivity from Srinagar to Kargil and Leh, did not get a single bid during the last round of tendering process, which ended last week.
The project to build a 14km single tube bi-directional tunnel was approved by the Cabinet three years ago and it was to be built under public-private partnership (PPP) mode. But since April 2013, bids for this project were invited five times and on four occasions, single bids were received.
"We have started documentation work to implement this project under EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) wherein government provides 100% funding," National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) managing director Anand Kumar told TOI. The project cost under EPC is likely to be Rs 4,000-5,000 crore. Work is in progress on another 6.5 km tunnel near Z-Morh, 20 km from Zojila Pass on the same highway, which is expected to be completed next year.
NHIDCL had held several rounds of meetings with potential highway builders across the country to attract more bidders.
Union highway minister Nitin Gadkari had entrusted this task to NHIDCL earlier this year following his decision to terminate the contract with IRB Infrastructure Developer. Though IRB was also a single bidder during the fourth round of bidding, the ministry had awarded the project to the company last December. But the contract was cancelled after Congress member Digvijay Singh alleged irregularities in the award of project to IRB.