New Delhi: The government awarded the Jammu and Kashmir”s crucial Z-Morh Tunnel project, delayed for 7 years after it was abandoned, to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway, which will be built at a cost of Rs 2,379 crore, according to a press release issued by PIB on Friday. The pact between the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway was signed in presence of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V K Singh.
The Z-Morh Tunnel along with the Zoji-la tunnel is designed to provide all-weather road connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir parts which remain closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall. The project is likely to be completed by 2023.
All-weather connectivity for J&K-Kargil
The project was earlier allotted to Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), but the contractor had abandoned it after IL&FS Group faced a financial crisis. The work on it has begun in 2012.
The project includes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel with approaches on NH-1 at Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road from 61 km to 89.30 km on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) Annuity basis.
The 2-lane bi-directional tunnel with a 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 Completion Date. The earlier contract is being foreclosed in terms of Ministry ‘Guidelines Principles for Resolution of Stuck National Highway Projects’ dated March 9, 2019.
Awarded within 7 months after a 7-year delay
Bids for the project were re-invited on June 24, 2019, with a TPC of Rs. 2378.76 Cr 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 the APCO Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
The Z-Morh Tunnel project was awarded on build-operate-transfer (annuity) basis with a concession period of 20 years including 5 years of construction period to IL&FS but due to financial crisis of IL&FS group of companies, the concessionaire stopped all work w.e.f July 2018.
“This is an old and ongoing project. Earlier it was with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) then it came to the Ministry and finally to NHIDCL. We started the work when the IL&FS left the project and finally, we retendered it and now the new bidder is on board. This is a sort of private partnership project and is an annuity based project,” said Keshav Kumar Pathak, MD-NHIDCL.
Pathak also said NHIDCL will give an annuity of Rs 297 crore to the contractor every six months and the concessionaire is mandated to complete the project in 3.5 years.