The Managing Director of National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) KK Pathak, said that Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir will help all-weather connectivity in the area along with Zojila tunnel.
"The Z-Morh is a very important and strategic tunnel, which has a lot of bearing on the forthcoming Zojila tunnel. Z-Morh and Zojila tunnels will help in ensuring all-weather connectivity in the area," Pathak told media on Friday.
NHIDCL and the concessionaire of APCO Amarnathji Tunnel Way Private Limited signed the agreement for Z-Morh tunnel on Friday in the presence of Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Z-Morh tunnel is a private participation project where the government will only bear the cost of the annuity, which is Rs 2,970 crore every six months for 15 years. This Rs 23-crore project is expected to complete in three-and-a-half years.
An agreement has been signed for construction, operation and maintenance of Z-Morh tunnel in J&K including approaches on the National Highway 1 (Srinagar Sonamarg Gumri Road) (61 to 89.30 km) on design, build, finance, operation and transfer (DBFOT) annuity basis.
Both the tunnels are adjacent to each other and full-fledged work will start only after the snow melts around March. The partially constructed area is being maintained in J&K.
In 2012, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) started the project with but it was later handed over to the Ministry and then to the NHIDCL. The original concessionaire of the Z-Morh tunnel was Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS). However, due to its financial issues, the project was halted.
Pathak said: "We had to re-tender the whole project. Today we have selected the concessionaire. The agreement has been signed. The entire cost and the risk of cost escalation will be borne by the concessionaire."
He said that bids for the project were invited again on June 24, 2019, with a TPC of Rs 2,378.76 crore on BOT (build, operate, transfer annuity) basis. Z-Morh will be a two-lane and bi-directional tunnel with a parallel escape tunnel (6.50 km long).