Months After Starting Construction, Contractor For Zojila In Jammu And Kashmir Seeks Alternate Alignment For Tunnel


Zojila Pass. Photo: Hindustan Times
Zojila Pass. Photo: Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI: Barely months after starting the construction of Zojila tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir, the contractor has sought alternate alignment for the tunnel. It has cited difficulties in the construction on the approved alignment of the tunnel and that the new alignment will reduce the tunnel length by 1.2 km.

Sources said three months back, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd had sent a letter to the project manager of National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) seeking the change in alignment. It said the location of the west portal (mouth of the tunnel) near Baltal area lies in avalanche zone and debris flow.

TOI has learnt that the construction major has mentioned that the burden in the initial length of the tunnel comprises boulders, cobbles, pebbles of different rock types like quartzite, limestone with clay and slip up to a depth of 100 metres. “This will make the tunnelling very difficult and time consuming. The portal layout also criss-crosses the river many times and is aligned under the river for long lengths which is likely to encounter severe problems of heavy seepages in the tunnel,” the letter said.

The company has claimed the change in alignment will reduce the tunnel length by 1.2 km and will help avoid criss-crossing of the river and also reduce the length of approach road by nearly 800 metres.

Sources in the NHIDCL said giving in-principle approval for new alignment is not an issue, if it doesn’t increase the cost of the project. “Since the contractor has claimed that the tunnel will be shorter, ideally we should spend less,” said an official.

The Hyderabad-based construction company had bagged the project quoting a price of Rs 4,509 crore in August last year. The 14.2 km-long tunnel which will ensure all year connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, had been stalled for almost six years due to several reasons.