New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) In a bid to ramp up infrastructure in the Himalayan region, the government has finalised bids to construct the Zoji La tunnel in the Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh region.
National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL) opened the bids on Friday as the government finally called for the tenders to complete the long-pending road tunnel, which will have to be constructed under critical conditions.
The bid for the project which will be constructed in two sections of about 33 kilometre has been won by the Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL).
The first section will involve the construction of a 18.50-kilometre road. The second section a horseshoe of 14.15 km Zoji La tunnel as a two-lane road of 9.5 meter width and 7.57 meter height.
The road from Srinagar to Leh in Ladakh is not suitable for vehicular traffic throughout the year. The Srinagar-Ladakh highway is completely closed for six months, especially during the winter season. So much so, that even the military vehicles are unable to move under these conditions.
“The project, in which MEIL has become L-1, will be constructed from the Z-Morh tunnel to Zoji La tunnel between Sonmarg-Kargil on national highway-1 in the Zoji La area. This project is the most complex one. The construction of this tunnel will come up facing unprecedented difficulties,” said the company that won the bid, in a statement.
The tunnel has to be built at 700 meters below the surface. The project is also in the most complex hill terrain and snowstorms are a regular feature. As there is dense snow for at least eight months in a year, the execution will not be easy, accepts MEIL.
What makes it even more challenging is the river flowing adjacent to the proposed project site. These conditions are going to create severe problems with water and ice pouring during the construction.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has decided to improve the road travel facilities to all commuters between Kashmir and Ladakh. As part of this plan, a highway tunnel will also be constructed from Srinagar to Baltal, which will improve the Amaranth Yatra of the pilgrims. Baltal base camp near Kargil is used for Amarnath yatra.
Ch. Subbaiah, Director, MEIL said, “A two-lane road with bi-directional traffic would have to be constructed on the Zoji La route, which will be a Single Tube tunnel. The road will consist mainly of shafts as well as portal structures and excavated areas. This complex project would have to be complete in just 72 months.”
The first part will involve widening the existing road form Judd-Morha to Zoji La tunnel about 3.018 kilometre. A 13.842 kilometre new road will be constructed. Of this, one of the twin tour tunnels, one 2.36 kilometre and the other one is 2.39 kilometre, and will also consist of five bridges.
Besides, two snow galleries will come up — 300 meters and 150 meters each. India is making every effort to ramp up its Himalayan road infra. The total length of these works is 18.475 kilometres.
In Part-2, the construction will include a 0.16 km long cut and cover tunnel along with the above details regarding the tunnel. Even, ventilation cavern, three shafts will also be constructed. Two other shafts called the Longitudinal Ventilation System will then come up, including a special transport ventilation system.