HC notice to MoRTH, J&K Govt over Zojila tunnel work

The High Court Wednesday issued notices to the union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) and the state government in a Public Interest Litigation seeking completion of Zojila tunnel without any delay.

A division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar issued the notices after hearing advocate Muhammad Ismail who has filed the PIL seeking directions for speeding up work on the tunnel. 

Besides the MoRTH, the petitioner sought directions from the court to the National Highway & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited to clear all the documentary work related to the tunnel before April 2019 and start construction immediately thereafter. 

Advocate Ismail has sought directions to authorities to distribute the Zojila tunnel project in favour of more than two companies on both its ends for quick completion of the project.

He has sought directions to MoRTH and managing director NHIDCL to produce the monthly status report before the court until the project is completed.

The petitioner has also sought directions to director general and chief engineer Broader Roads Organisation for keeping the road to Kargil open during winters.

He has sought directions to the BRO’s director general to take action against the Beacon Ganderbal responsible for clearing the road from Sonamarg side.

“The sub-ordinate authority of BRO administration from Ganderbal side is totally irresponsible and also causes delay of more than 15 days at the time of opening of the road.”

The petitioner also seeks direction to DG BRO for handing over the snow clearance work up to Sonamarg to the authority of BRO Drass which, he contended, was doing a commendable job at all times, until completion of the construction of Zojila Tunnel.

 “The survey of Zojila tunnel and other ground level process was started 2013 onwards by the MoRTH and more than five times tenders took place and is still going on for the same process. Ultimately the project was sanctioned in favour of IL&FS but now again closed because of company came in the list of bank default on a number of loan repayments,” pleads the petitioner. 

“During harsh winter, the people of Ladakh region cannot move outside the region, cannot have access for good medical facilities, cannot appear in exams and interviews conducted during winter, cannot apply when any post is advertised.”

The petitioner informed the court that the government had decided to construct the Zojila tunnel but had failed to come out of the tender procedures since 2015.

While assistant solicitor general Tahir Shamsi accepted notice on behalf of MoRTH, MD NHIDCL and chief engineer BRO, additional advocate general Javid Iqbal accepted the same for the state government.