NEW DELHI – The government on Friday awarded the Jammu and Kashmir’s crucial Z-Morh Tunnel project, languishing for long after it was abandoned, to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway, which will be built at a cost of Rs 2,379 crore, a senior official said 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 Zojila tunnel are 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.
The project was earlier allotted to Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), but the contractor had abandoned it after IL&FS Group faced financial crisis. The work on it has begun in 2012.
“National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) has awarded the Rs 2,379 crore Z-Morh Tunnel to APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway Pvt Ltd,” NHIDCL Managing Director K K Pathak said.
The Z-Morh Tunnel project was awarded on build-operate-transfer (annuity) basis with 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,” he said.
Pathak 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.
“The tunnel is in a very strategic, important place and it has got a lot of bearing in the forthcoming Zojilla tunnel, which is also being taken by the NHIDCL. Together, these two tunnels — the Z-Morh and Zozilla — will help in all-weather connectivity in that area,” he said.
About the partially constructed structure, he said NHIDCL will ensure that it is not damaged and a full-fledged work on the project will start after the snow melts in March.
“By the time the concessionaire will be fully mobilised. Today, the agreement has been signed and the developer has to achieve the financial closure. Once that is achieved we will start the work,” he said and added that both the tunnels are contiguous to each other.
“The concessionaire is supposed to complete it by 2023. The developer has to achieve the financial closure within next month,” he said adding that the cost and the risk associated with the project is totally borne by the concessionaire.
Z-Morh Tunnel would provide all-weather road connectivity to Sonamarg tourist spot in Jammu and Kashmir which mostly remains closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall in Gagenger area.
Bids for the project were re-invited on June 24, 2019 with a TPC of Rs 2,378.76 crore on BOT – build operate transfer – (Annuity) basis, he said.
The project includes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel including 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 developer has been awarded maintenance Period of 15 years from the completion date.
The earlier contract is being foreclosed in terms of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways ”Guidelines Principles for Resolution of Stuck National Highway Projects”.
Earlier, the tunnel project was awarded on BOT (annuity) basis with concession period of 20 years including 5 years of construction period to IL&FS group.