Megha Engineering and Infrastructures (MEIL) has become an L-1 in the most prestigious Zojilla pass tunnel in Jammu Kashmir-Ladakh in Himalayan region. National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL) has opened the bids, and MEIL topped the list by quoting less than other companies. The project is to be constructed in 2 divisions in two sections of about 33 kilometres. The first section is to be developed by constructing the 18.50-kilometre road.
In the second section, the Zojilla Tunnel is to be built in the shape of a horseshoe shape of 14.15 km as a two-road lane of 9.5 meters wide and 7.57 meters high. This project will have to be carried out innovatively in the most critical conditions. The Government of India finally called for tenders to complete this long-pending road tunnel. The tenders called for the construction of 14.15 km of road for the Zojilla tunnel. MEIL has come forward to execute this work for Rs. 4509.50 crores, whereas other companies quoted at a higher amount. MEIL topped as L-1 by quoting for a less amount than the other two companies. On 30th July, three companies submitted the bids to NHIDCL, and the finance bids opened on 21st August.
The road from Srinagar to Leh in Ladakh is not suitable for vehicular traffic throughout the year. The Srinagar-Ladakh highway is completely closed for six months, especially during the winter season. Even the military vehicles are unable to move under these conditions. Travelling long distances on alternate routes has become a costly affair and a waste of time. Under these circumstances, the road tunnel was proposed between Sonamarg to Leh and Ladakh via Kargil long back. Finally, the project initiated. The project, for which MEIL has become L-1, will be constructed from the Z-Morh tunnel to Zojilla tunnel between Sonamarg-Kargil on National Highway-1 in the Zojilla pass area. This EPC project is the most complex one. The construction of this tunnel is going to face unprecedented difficulties. The tunnel has to be built at 700 meters below the surface on average. The project is also in the most complex hill terrain and snowstorms often occurring. As the dense snow lasts for at least eight months in a year, the execution work will not be an easy task. At the same time, a river flows adjacent to the proposed project site. These conditions are going to create severe problems with water and ice pouring during the construction.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has decided to improve the road travel facilities to all commuters between Kashmir to Ladakh. As part of this plan, a highway tunnel will also be constructed from Srinagar to Baltal. This tunnel road is also convenient to Amaranth Yatra pilgrims. Baltal base camp near Kargil will be used for Amarnath yatra.
Ch. Subbaiah, Director, MEIL said, "A two-lane road with bi-directional traffic would have to be constructed on the Zojilla route, which is called a Single Tube tunnel. The road consists mainly of shafts as well as portal structures and excavated areas. This complex project would have to be completed in just 72 months."
This whole project has to executed in two parts. The first part is 18.50 kilometre of road, and the second part is 14.15 kilometres as a tunnel. The first part is to widen the existing road form Judd-Morha to Zojilla tunnel for about 3. 018 kilometres. A 13.842 kilometres new road is to be constructed. Of this, one of the twin tour tunnels, one is 2.36 kilometres and the other one is 2.39 kilometres and consists of five bridges. Two snow galleries are to be built with 300 meters and 150 meters each. The total length of these works is 18.475 kilometres. In the same way, the Zojilla tunnel in Part-2 is to be built. It includes a 0.16 km long cut and cover tunnel along with the above details regarding the tunnel. Ventilation cavern and three shafts are also to be constructed. Two other shafts known as Longitudinal Ventilation System will also be constructed. This includes a special transport ventilation system. It is expected that critical conditions would be encountered during the construction of this tunnel.
Ch. Subbaiah, Director, MEIL said , "In addition to these, retaining walls, breast walls, gabion structures and mud wall will have to be constructed by MEIL for a total of about 10 kilometres. Catch dams, air blast, protection walls and deflector dams are constructed over a distance of about 6 kilometres without any risk of snowstorms."