NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet is set to give go-ahead to two major infrastructure projects costing over Rs 12,000 Crore on Wednesday to provide all-weather connectivity to Kashmir and make the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of Ganga navigable by 2022.
According to sources, the cabinet is likely to approve the project cost for the longest tunnel in the country at Zojila Pass for Rs 6,808 crore. National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, which had floated the tender for this crucial project, has received four bids. It will be fully funded by the government. Infrastructure major IL&FS Transportation has quoted the lowest bid at Rs 4,899 crore.
The government had failed to get enough bidders when it floated tenders for the project on public-private-partnership (PPP) mode. The tunnel will ensure round-the-year connectivity from Srinagar to Kargil and Leh. It will be a 2-lane bi-directional tunnel with parallel escape tunnel. The project will start in the next two months and will be completed in seven years.
Sources said the cabinet is also scheduled to approve Rs 5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas project, a flagship initiative of the Narendra Modi government to push movement of cargo using rivers and other inland waterways. It will cover 1,400 km of Ganga and the project is scheduled for completion by 2022.
The World Bank and Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will share the expenditure on 50:50 basis. Officials said four major projects under this scheme will be completed in 2018-19 and these are three multi-modal terminals at Haldia, Sahibganj and Varanasi. The other major component of the project to be completed by 2019 is the construction of Farakka navigation lock.
Road and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari has claimed these two projects as historic steps. IWAI has already started work on the multi-modal hubs and work for Farakka navigation lock is on.
The cabinet is also likely to approve the mandatory use of jute for packaging of bulk items.
Source : timesofindia