Bandipora, Jan 27 : The longest road tunnel proposed by project Beacon of Border Roads Organization (BRO) for remote Gurez valley from Razdan Pass is still pending for approval from the government of India even as BRO has submitted the proposal in 2015.
According to wire service the project is pending approval from the central government as the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has not approved the project yet.
“There are two ministries involved in funding the project viz Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Ministry of Defense, which would sanction funds to BRO. But the approval is still awaited,” official sources said.
An official of BRO said that the total length of the tunnel is 18 kilometers which include its approaches across Razdan Pass on Bandipora-Gurez road.
“Razdan Pass which is located at Km 42 on Bandipora-Gurez road which isolates Gurez valley during winters from Kashmir due to heavy snowfall. This area is, however, very sensitive and strategically very important, as it is subjected to frequent militant infiltration across the Line of Control. It, therefore, requires utmost priority for development of an all-weather route by way of tunnel across this pass,” said the official.
According to details available with news agency, a detailed feasibility study was done and DPR was also prepared by project Beacon of BRO in 2011.
“The feasibility study cum DPR was submitted by the consulting agency, hired by BRO for feasibility study and DPR, in 2014. The feasibility report and DPR after the detailed examination was approved technically in June 2015 by Director General Border Roads,” the details reveal.
The BRO official said that a case was processed to the ministry of defense for the tunnel project seeking approval of Cabinet as the cost of work was assessed at Rs 4938.59 Crore at price level of 2014-15.
According to the details, the total project cost for construction of Razdan Tunnel was estimated at Rs. 7802.42 Crore (approx.) which includes escalation charges.
“The proposal for approval from the government of India was submitted in 2015 but it has not been sanctioned as yet,” the official said.
Considering its length, a period of 9 years was set for construction and completion of this tunnel including Electro-mechanical works.
The construction of tunnel on 84 kilometer long Bandipora-Gurez road at Razdan Pass would save a distance of 38 kilometers as estimated by the feasibility study by project Beacon.
As per the DPR submitted by project Beacon to the central government for approval, the tunnel consists of a single tube Bi-directional tunnel (2 x 4.0 m lanes & 5.5m vertical clearance) with parallel Escape Tunnel. The design speed of the tunnel is 80 Kmph.
According to sources, the construction of the tunnel was proposed for Gurez for its strategic importance as the area is located near the line of control and remains isolated from rest of the Kashmir valley and outside world during winter months due to heavy snowfall on Razdan Pass.
The snowfall not only disconnects the local population but several army units stationed in Gurez valley from outside world, hence, construction of tunnel would be a sort of relief for the army personnel as well.
The proposal for the tunnel on Razdan Pass also gains importance due to the construction of 330 MegaWatt Kishen Ganga Hydroelectric Power Project (KGHEP), the dam site of which is located near Malik Kadal in Gurez.
Meanwhile, district administration Bandipora had also proposed the construction of an alternate road to Gurez from Athwatoo, Bandipora at a cost of Rs 62 crore to give Gurez an all-weather connectivity.
An official said that road from Athwatoo, Bandipora to Khandiyal, Gurez will reduce the distance by more than 45 kilometers.
“The road under winter snow clearance will be reduced to just 13 kilometers against present 45-50 kilometers. It will give a much-needed relief to the people of Gurez which remains cut off for almost 4 months during winters,” he said.
He said that the road is proposed to reduce distance and keep it open round the year as minimum length will be under snow. “PWD has submitted its DPR and some work has already been done from Gurez side. Now we have to only do forest land assessment,” he said.
A senior official of the district told that the demand of tunnel has been projected to the government which is under consideration.
Last year during the visit of Chief Secretary to district Bandipora, the proposal for Rs 62 Crore Khandiyal-Athwatoo road was also approved.
A Beacon official said that after submitting the DPR for construction of the tunnel there has been no response from the concerned ministry for further action on the ground.
“We have not been intimated as yet for further action. Hence the project for further process is still pending since 2015 when the DPR was submitted to the Government of India,” he said. (KNO)