Shimla: Work on the strategic 9 Km long Rohtang Tunnel is expected to start by the summer as the Border Roads Organization (BRO) prepares to open the technical and financial bids for the multi crore project.
Entrusted with the task of supervising the tunnel construction, BRO chief Brigadier JK Narang told My Himachal News that technical bids for the project would be opened on January 28th and work would start within six months after opening of the financial bids.
In all nine companies, five of which are joint ventures with multinationals have been shortlisted for the technical bids, he said. The tunnel is slated to be completed by 2014.
The five multinational joint venture companies are Coastal â€“ Hundai (South Korea), Martii (Swiss) â€“ Skil, Gammon-Gaggar, FCC- IVRCL and Stradberg â€“FCON. Three hree Indian companies, HCC, L&T and JP Associates have independently bid for the project said Narang.
â€œEnvironment clearance that caused much delay for the project has been obtained,â€ said Narang.
Minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju visited the project site last September and the companies bidding to construct the tunnel did so in October. The financial bids would be opened a month after the technical bids and it would take about 3 months for the successful bidder to mobilize men and machinery to start work, he added.
BRO has acquired wasteland to be used as debris dumping sites for what is considered the longest road tunnel project in the country.
Separately chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal stated here today that minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju has communicated that work on the Rohtang Tunnel was likely to start by May.
Dhumla said that a tunnel under Rohtang Pass was a dream for the tribal people of Lahaul as it would not only the distance but provide year around access as well as increase opportunities of marketing the cash crops and boosting adventure tourism activities.
Ever since the Kargil War of 1999, the army has stressed for an alternative all weather road to Ladhak but heavy snow on 13,050 feet Rohtang Pass on the Manali-Leh highway keeps it snow bound for over six months at a stretch.
Though the project was mooted about three decades ago but AB Vajpayee as prime minister laid the foundation stone for the tunnel in May 2001.
The tunnel would not only provide a all weather road to the landlocked region of Lahaul but would also reduce the road length by 47 kilometers.
At 2004 price estimates, the tunnel project cost of Rs 1355.82 crore had been approved by the central government but increase in diesel, steel and cement prices because of delays since then are expected to hike the prestigious projects costs further.