Z-Morh tunnel construction going at snail’s pace

Less than 5% work completed in 2 years; tunnel to be completed by 2020, claim authorties

IRFAN RAINA
Sonamarg, Publish Date: Jul 2 2017 12:43AM | Updated Date: Jul 2 2017 12:43AM
Z-Morh tunnel construction going at snail’s paceFile Photo

Commenced in May 2015, work on the prestigious Z-Morh Tunnel construction project is going very slow, as only 200 meters of the tunnel has been completed in more than 2 years time, which is less than 5 percent of 6.5km long of this underground passage.

The present pace of work on the tunnel, sanctioned and funded by the government of India on strategic Srinagar-Leh Highway at Gagengir area of Sonamarg, suggests that the project is not going to meet the 2020 deadline for completion.  

The tunnel will provide all weather road connectivity to Sonamarg tourist spot, which mostly remains closed during the winters due to heavy snow in the Gagenger area. However, the slow pace in the execution of this vital project has marred the purpose. So far besides the approach road only 200m of the tunnel has been completed. 

The Rs 2,700 crore tunnel project was awarded to APCO Titan Company which further engaged IL&FS Transportation Network Limited for executing the work. 

Sources said that the state government particularly the district administration has failed to redress some minor issues with the local landowners with regard to the land acquisition and compensation and also few government departments who are yet to sort out some issues, adding that the non seriousness of the authorities to sort out these issues is also becoming a hindrance and somehow affecting the work.

Talking to Greater Kashmir Project Director Rishish Jha admitted that there has been less work carried against what was expected however he blamed the delay and slow pace of work to last year’s unrest and winter.

“We lost a year as we couldn’t carry out that much of work during six months of unrest in 2016 and nearly for four months the work was stopped due to the heavy snowfall in winter,” Jha said.

He said that the work is going on full swing at this time, adding that the major works of the project can be taken up only during summers due to limited working season here. He admitted that meeting the deadline would be a challenge for the executing agency.

He further said that the state government particularly district administration should redress some of the minor issues of local landowners whose land is falling under the construction of the approach road for the tunnel so that there is no hindrance while carrying out the work.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, today convened a meeting to review the progress of the Z-Morh tunnel project.

The divisional Commissioner, according to an official spokesperson, was informed in the meeting that the Hyderabad based Construction Company APCO was awarded the contract for the construction of Z-Morh tunnel and the work on the 6.5 Km long tunnel on Srinagar-Leh highway near Gagengar (Sonamarg) will be completed by the year 2020. 

It was said that currently 800 workers are working on the project out of which almost 50% are locals.

On the occasion, the Divisional Commissioner directed the officials of the executing agency to devise a comprehensive local area development plan in consultation with DC and SSP Ganderbal for the upliftment of the local area.

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