Beacon authorities shelve project, cancel tender after 6 months of work

#BCC failed to complete work as per DPR; fresh tenders to be floated soon: Beacon
A view of Jawhar tunnel at Qazigund south Kashmir amid snowfall
A view of Jawhar tunnel at Qazigund south Kashmir amid snowfall File: ANI

Banihal: The authorities of Project Beacon have shelved their project to renovate strategically important Jawahar Tunnel by cancelling the tender of the construction company six months after the commencement of work.

A senior official of Project Beacon maintained that the tender was cancelled as the Beigh Construction Company (BCC) failed to complete the work as per its (Beacon's) Detailed Project Report (DPR) even after several months of work.

An amount of Rs 80 Cr was being spent on repair and renovation of two parallel tubes of Jawahar Tunnel, each having about 2.5 kilometres length, the Beacon official informed.

However, he stated that the fresh tenders were being called soon to upgrade Jawahar Tunnel and a new company would resume its (tunnel’s) renovation and repair works.

Project Beacon is the pioneer flagship project of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). 

The project to renovate strategically important Jawahar Tunnel was taken up by Project Beacon in 2021 to enhance and improve its beauty and promote it (tunnel) as a tourist destination.  

“The BRO's project Beacon took up the JT project in July 2021 to refurbish the Jawahar Tunnel and restore it as a smart and intelligent tunnel. The project related to renovation of the two-tube tunnel was allotted to Beigh Construction Company (BCC). But the company failed to execute the renovation work of JT so the company was removed from the project," he said.

The official informed Greater Kashmir that the company (BCC) was pulled out of the project within six months after the commencement of work. Its tender was cancelled by the higher authorities of Project Beacon and the project Jawahar Tunnel (JT) was shelved for the time being, he said.

The traffic movement through Jawahar Tunnel has been diverted via the 8.5 kms long Banihal-Qazigund four-lane tunnel. This has reduced a distance of sixteen kilometers between Banihal and Qazigund. However, still all kinds of fuel loaded tankers and the passenger-traffic of different areas of Banihal and Anantnag district use the Jawahar Tunnel route. 

Bypassing the old highway via Jawahar Tunnel had a spiralling effect on the local populace. Hundreds of people, who were earning their livelihood from the shops, kiosks along both sides of Jawahar Tunnel, had become unemployed.

Such people from lower Munda Kashmir to Shaitani Nallah, Chakoor Nallah, Nowgam, Thethar and Chereel in Banihal had pinned all their hopes on the project related to beautification of Jawahar Tunnel to generate means of livelihood. 

They were also demanding uplifting of Jawahar Tunnel, beautiffication of Pir Panjal Pass (Top) and development of Shaitani Nallah as tourist destination to generate employment opportunities for hundreds of locals there. 

A tea-stall owner Kuljeet Singh at Shaitani Nallah said that the hopes of people working along this stretch of old highway for better employment were fading after the Jawahar Tunnel repair project was shelved.

He said that around three dozen vendors were facing hardships as they were unable to earn livelihood along the old highway stretch after the traffic was diverted to the four-lane tunnel bypassing Jawahar Tunnel.

A senior official of Project Beacon, on the condition of anonymity, told this correspondent that the six- decade old Jawahar Tunnel would be upgraded to a modern tunnel by a new company and for the purpose fresh tenders would be floated.

He said the project was allotted to BCC in 2021 with a deadline of 365 days for its completion. He said that the construction company, however, even after months completed less than 3 percent of the work inside the Jawahar Tunnel, which was unacceptable. “There was no option but to cancel the tender of BCC,” he said.

The official said in the first phase of tendered work, the work of the eastern tube of JT was taken up by BCC. “But the company did only the dismantling work of wires and cables inside the tube and the basic repair work was not even touched by the BCC. Hence, it was removed,” the official added.

“Fresh tenders are being called soon to upgrade Jawahar Tunnel and a new company will resume the renovation and repair works. It (Jawahar Tunnel) will continue to serve as an alternative route across the Pir Panjal range of mountains. All tankers loaded with petrol, diesel, LPG and other explosives material loaded vehicles, besides local passenger-traffic between Banihal and Anantnag areas are using Jawahar Tunnel. So, Beacon is always committed to repair and maintain the Jawahar Tunnel project,” he said. 

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