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Zojila tunnel project up for bid again


The government has invited fresh bids for the Zojila tunnel project in Jammu & Kashmir, after the construction contract was cancelled for the second time in three years. 

The tunnel, to be built at an altitude of 4,000 metres, will provide year-long connectivity between Srinagar and Leh as the current national highway that connects these two places remains shut for close to six months due to snowfall. But nine months after Prime Minister naugurated the work in May last year, the order given to Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services,( IL&FS) which is facing a cash crunch, has been cancelled. 

State-run National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDC) has set the estimated cost of the project at Rs 4,899 crore and the construction time at seven years. NHIDC is accepting queries from potential contractors till March 18, after which the bids can be submitted between April 1 and April 8, according to the bid documents.
 
In January 2018, Mumbai-based IL&FS bagged the order to build the project for Rs 6,808 crore, beating Larsen & Toubro, Reliance Infrastructure and Jaiprakash Ventures. It exited the project after the company ran into financial troubles. 

The Zojila tunnel project was first announced during the UPA-II government. After four attempts to bid out under the private-public-partnership model and receiving dismal repose from the private sector since 2013, the government offered the project on an engineering, construction and procurement basis.