Modi Government racing to complete Zojila tunnel in-time without cost escalation

Zojila Tunnel

The modern-day marvel of Zojila tunnel planned for all-year connectivity between Leh and Srinagar was delayed due to several reasons but is now being once again put for rebidding process with the government aiming to complete the project in the stipulated target time and without major cost escalations.

Crux of the Matter

The 14.15 km long Zojila Tunnel on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway at an altitude of 11,578 feet is aimed to connect Ladakh from Kashmir which gets disconnected due to snowfall in winters. The tunnel will reduce the 3.5-hour journey to only 15 minutes. IL&FS Transportation was awarded the contract by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) but IL&FS terminated the contract and abandoned the project over financial issues.

A revised estimated cost of over Rs 8,000 crore has been presented before the cabinet. But to prevent cost escalation the ministry is deliberating on design changes. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “the government plans to complete the project at the earlier estimated cost of about Rs 6,800 crores and thus it may have to undergo minor design changes.” The government plans to replace the escape tunnel with vertical shafts which will not compromise with the safety and also reduce costs.

The project will now be converted into EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode as against the previous hybrid annuity mode. The proposed plan includes provisions for pedestrian cross passages every 250 meters, emergency telephones and fire-fighting cabinets every 125 meters, 24×7 CCTV, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, overheight vehicle detection, tunnel radio system, and motorable cross passages and lay-bys every 750 meters.

Before IL&FS the bid of IRB Infrastructure was canceled in 2016 and a rebidding procedure was done after Congress leader Digvijay Singh had alleged violation of guidelines. The Zojila tunnel’s foundation stone was laid in May 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was expected to be completed in seven years’ time.


Zoji La Tunnel is a 14.2 km long road tunnel under Zoji La pass on the Himalayas between Sonmarg and Drass town of Kargil district of the Indian Union Territory Of Ladakh, currently under construction. The tunnel along with 6.5 km long Z-Morh Tunnel, (which is 22 km before Zoji La tunnel towards Srinagar) will ensure year-long road connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil which currently remains closed for about seven months due to heavy snowfall on the Zoji La pass which is situated at an altitude of 3,528 m on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway. Zoji La is 15 km from Sonamarg and provides a vital link with Drass and Kargil in Ladakh but remains closed for 5-6 months (Nov-Dec to April-May) during winter due to heavy snowfall & snow avalanches. More Info

Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) is an Indian infrastructure development and finance company. IL&FS has 256 group companies as of 2018, including subsidiaries, joint venture companies and associate entities. Though on the surface, the company appears to have 23 direct subsidiaries, 141 indirect subsidiaries, 6 joint ventures and 4 associate companies. In April 2019, its newly constituted board informed investors that the company had 302 entities through which it currently operates, through a highly complex network of multiple business verticals. More Info

IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited is an Indian highway construction company headquartered in Mumbai. IRB Infrastructure executed the country’s first build-operate-transfer (BOT) road project and is one of the largest operators of such ventures. Currently, it has about 3,404 lane Km operational and about 2,330 lane Km under development. Among its notable projects are the Mumbai Pune Expressway and the Ahmedabad Vadodara Expressway. More Info

Government releases revamp Plan to boost Infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir

According to the new policy document shared with potential investors, Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir will be offering uninterrupted power, secure data transmission, refurbishing of 11 airports, ‘subsidy on rent’ and many such facilities for the proposed information technology hub.

Crux of the Matter

The new union territory of Jammu & Kashmir is majorly banking on the IT industry for employment generation and industrialization.

Two IT parks are proposed to come up by 2021; one in Srinagar and other in Jammu which will be spread over 5 lakh square feet. They are being developed in cluster mode with secure infrastructure and fiber optic connectivity along with connectivity to the airports.

The state administration also released real estate policy under which the land banks of the government will be disbursed to private developers through a transparent bidding process.

Nearly 11 airports are being expanded. Amongst these, Fukche and Chushul are currently being used as Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) by the military to transfer troops and material to the India-China border.

According to the investor document, military airports at Poonch, Rajouri, Gurex along India-Pakistan border are also being expanded to be opened up for civilian use.


Jammu & Kashmir is a region administered as a union territory, and constituting the southern portion of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947, and between India and China since 1962. The region of Jammu and Kashmir is separated by the Line of Control from the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and north respectively. Provisions for the formation of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir were contained within the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which was passed by the Parliament in August 2019. The act re-constituted the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, with effect from 31 October 2019. More Info

Reliance Industries to use plastics in road construction

India, that uses about 14 million tonnes of plastic annually, lacks an organized system for the management of plastic waste, leading to widespread littering. Amidst growing concerns over pollution, Reliance Industries is launching a project to use plastics in road construction.

Crux of the Matter
  • RIL seeks to work with NHAI and individual states to potentially supply a plastics-infused mix to make roads.
  • Reliance wants to use light plastics, carry bags or snack wrappers, that are typically not viable to recycle and that end up in landfills, street corners or oceans and rather mix it with bitumen, a formula which is cheaper and long-lasting.
  • Vipul Shah, the COO of the RIL petrochemicals said, ” This can be a game-changing project both for our environment and our roads.”
  • Sunil Dahiya, Analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air said, “It is happening internationally and now has started percolating to India too, though it’s at a very early stage.”
  • PM Narendra Modi is urging India to end the consumption of single-use plastics by 2022. 

Plastic roads are made entirely of plastic or of composites of plastic with other materials. Plastic roads are different from standard roads in the respect that standard roads are made from asphalt concrete, which consists of mineral aggregates and asphalt. There are two kinds of Plastic roads. One consists of modular, hollow and prefabricated road elements made from consumer waste plastics and others that consist of an asphalt mix with plastic waste incorporated into the asphalt mixture. The technology was initially developed and patented by Rajagopalan Vasudevan of the Thiagarajar College of Engineering. This method will help in making roads much faster and also will save the environment from dangerous plastic waste. More Info

India To Commission One Nuclear Reactor Every Year

Union Minister Jitendra Singh announced that India will commission one nuclear reactor every year from 2020 which is expected to give a big boost to renewable energy production in the country.

Crux of the Matter
  • The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which is responsible for overseeing atomic energy policy in India said the Kakrapar-3 power station is likely to be commissioned by mid-2020, Kakrapar-4 by 2021 and RAPP-7 in Rajasthan’s Rawatbhata by 2022.
  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has 22 reactors across India and is the only agency to operate such plants.
  • Senior DAE official Shrikrishna Gupta informed that the Maharashtra-based Tarapur Atomic Power Reactors completed 50 years of operation which were commissioned in October 1969. He also added that the Karnataka’s Kaiga Power Station unit 1 also created a world record by operating for 941 days.

Nuclear power is the fifth-largest source of electricity in India after coal, gas, hydroelectricity and wind power. As of March 2018, India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW. Nuclear power produced a total of 35 TWh and supplied 3.22% of Indian electricity in 2017. 7 more reactors are under construction with a combined generation capacity of 4,300 MW. India has been making advances in the field of thorium-based fuels which is a key part of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme. More Info

102 Lakh Crores National Infrastructure Pipeline For $5 Trillion Economy

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced a  Rs 102 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) to achieve the target of a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. The task force headed by Economic Affairs Secretary has prepared a road map for the NIP from 2019-20 to 2024-25.

Crux of the Matter
  • The task force headed by Economic affairs secretary Atanu Chakraborty submitted its first report after consultation with ministries, lenders, states and companies over the past four months.
  • Following are the sectors where the investments will be made:
  • Irrigation and rural infrastructure projects – 7.7 lakh crore each. Rs 3.07 lakh crore would be spent on industrial infrastructure and rest on Agriculture and social infrastructure.
  • Urban Infrastructure & Road projects – Rs 19.63 lakh crores and ₹16.29 lakh crores respectively.
  • Railway Projects & Telecom Sector – Rs 13.68 lakh crore and Rs 3.2 lakh crore respectively
  • Port & Airport projects – Rs 1 lakh crore and Rs 1.43 lakh crore respectively.
  • Energy & Power SectorRs 24.54 lakh crore out of which 11.7 lakh crore in the power sector.
  • Rs. 42 lakh crore NIP projects are in the implementation stage which includes expressways, national gas grid and PMAY-G.
  • 42% of NIP projects are now under implementation, 31% are at the conceptualisation stage and 19% are under development.
  • The centre & state would have an equal share of 39% each in the NIP. The private sector would have a 22% share which the government expects to increase to 30% by 2025.
  • The projects will be spread across 21 ministries and 18 states and Union territories.
  • Estimated projected spend per fiscal are: Rs.19.5 trillion in 2020-21, Rs.19 trillion in 2021-22, Rs.13.8 trillion in 2022-23, Rs.12.8 trillion in 2023-24 and Rs.11.1 trillion in 2024-25.

The Economy of India is characterised as a developing market economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). According to the IMF, on a per capita income basis, India ranked 142nd by GDP (nominal) and 119th by GDP (PPP) per capita in 2018. From independence in 1947 until 1991, successive governments promoted protectionist economic policies with extensive state intervention and regulation. 1991 led to the adoption of a broad program of economic liberalisation. Since the start of the 21st century, annual average GDP growth has been 6% to 7%, and from 2014 to 2018, India was the world’s fastest-growing major economy, surpassing China. More Info