IRB to construct southeast Asia’s longest tunnel

Mumbai: The Indian highway construction company, IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd will construct Southeast Asia’s longest tunnel at Zozi La, stretching over 14.08 km, in Jammu and Kashmir, an official said here on Monday.

A letter of intent has been issued to construct the tunnel at a cost of Rs 10,050 crore, making it the country’s biggest national highway project in terms of project cost, on a design, build, finance, operate, and transfer (DBFOT) basis, within seven years.

The project will include approaches on NH-1 (Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road), and provide an all-weather connectivity to the Leh-Ladakh region which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters.

Virendra Mhaiskar, chairman-cum-managing director of IRB Infrastructure said that the project of ‘national importance’ has a strategic and socio-economic importance as it will be will provide much-needed all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and Leh-Ladakh which remains cut-off during winter to due to heavy snowfall.

“The project involves constructing the 14.08 tunnel, 10.80 km approach roads, with three vertical ventilation shafts, snow gallery of 700 metres and avalanche protection measures,” Mhaiskar said.

Hoping to complete the project within the stipulated time-frame (7 years) in the tough Himalayan terrain, he said the concession period for the project is 22 years.

The company would receive a semi-annual annuity of Rs.981 crore from the ministry of highways, commencing after completion of construction of the project, twice every year till the end of the concession period.

IRB now expands its base to the ninth state in the country with this esteemed project and its book increased to Rs 16,430 crore, including 20 Road BOT project, including 14 which are already under operation.(IANS)