Work on 6.5 km Z-Morh tunnel to begin this year

Rs 2700 Cr Passageway Near Sonamarg To Be Completed In 5 Years

Srinagar, Mar 26: Construction of Z-Morh tunnel near Sonamarg is likely to start later this year with the contract being awarded by the Government of India to a Hyderabad based company.
The 6.5 kilometer tunnel between Gagangir and Sonamarg in Ganderbal district would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 2716.90 crore and it is a part of the mega road communication project to ensure undisrupted connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh.
The two-lane, 10 metre-wide tunnel will include an egress of 3.5 metres to be used in emergency. The tunnel, located 2,637 metres above sea level, will ensure the passage of 1,000 vehicles an hour at an approved maximum speed of 80 km per hour.
“We are expecting that the work on the project will be started this year,” said Chief Engineer Border Roads Organization (BRO) RK Sharma.
District Development Commissioner Ganderbal Sarmad Hafeez said the land for developing the approach road to the tunnel has been acquired. “The corridor is available to them (construction agency) for starting the work,” Hafeez said.
The BRO, which is the implementing agency for the project, has been simultaneously negotiating with the State Government authorities over the sites proposed by them for dumping the dig-out earth from the tunnel construction. Hafeez said the Organization has proposed land measuring 54 kanals and 64 kanals at two places near Gagangir for mud disposal.
“The negotiations are on,” he said. “Though it may take them (construction agency) some time to mobilize the machinery at the site in view of the snowfall in the area, we are quite hopeful that work will start this year.” The foundation stone of the tunnel was laid by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways in October 2012, in presence of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
The Letter of Award (LOA) for the two lane Z-Morh tunnel with six kilometer approaches was awarded by the Union Ministry to M/S Soma Enterprises Ltd on BOT annuity basis last August.
The Concession Period for the project is 20 years including five years construction period and 15 years period for maintenance. “The quoted semi-annuity by concessionaire is Rs 234.70 crore,” reads an official document of the Union Ministry.
The areas beyond Z-Morh including Sonamarg and Ladakh region, generally remain cut off from Kashmir for over six months owing to heavy snowfall during winters.
Z-Morh tunnel is being constructed around 22 kilometers ahead of Zojilla tunnel the construction of which is estimated to cost around Rs 9090 crore.
The State Forest Advisory Committee recently cleared the construction of the 14-kilometer Zojilla tunnel project.
A BRO official said the construction of Zojila Tunnel in continuation of Z–Morh Tunnel was necessary in order to establish all weather connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh.
“The road connectivity projects between Srinagar and Leh will not only be important for servicing the strategic interests but also for the overall socio-economic development of Ladakh,” the official said.