Chenani-Nashri tunnel not feasible for heavy traffic movement?

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Though a deadline has been set and an announcement has been made that Chenani-Nashri tunnel would be thrown open for traffic by the end of June 2016 but whether the new tunnel is feasible for traffic or not is a million dollar question.

A report of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) has pointed towards structural irregularities in the construction of tunnel and said that there are several loopholes in the construction work and no effort is being made by the contractor to address these loopholes at the earliest. CV has said that the 9 kilometer long Chenani-Nashri tunnel is not feasible for the movement of heavy traffic.

CVC has pointed out various irregularities and said that the construction is not going on as per the agreement which the contractor namely Chenani Nashri Tunnel Way Limited (CNTWL) had signed with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). CVC has in a report, a copy of which is with Newspoint Bureau said that work being done for the strengthening and four laning of Chenani-Nashri Section of National Hiighway-1A from Kilometer 89 to 130 through 9 kilometer double lane tunnel which is being constructed Chenani Nashri Tunnel Way Limited (CNTWL) is far from being satisfactory.

CNTWL had to submit a monthly undertaking that they have deposited all the tax, cess, and levies to concerned authorities but no copy of such undertaking and challans were shown during inspection. Reinforcement steel wire mesh was to be used for lining works.

Besides, Poly Fibre Shotcrete has been used instead of agreement item of wire mesh. CVC report has held out that undue benefits had been passed on to the Chenani Nashri Tunnel Way Limited (CNTWL) by permitting the use of Shyam Steel instead of steel from original producers in relaxation of clause 1009.3 of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways specifications for roads and bridges.

According to this clause, all steel has to be procured from the original producers and no rerolled steal shall be incorporated in the work. In general, the steel from primary producers i.e. SAIL, TISCO and RINI is considered to conform to above specifications i.e. steel from original producers. The steel from Shyam Steel Industries limited may be conforming to laid down specifications but may not be treated as steel from original producers as per general understanding in construction industry.

The steel from Shyam Steel industries limited is usually cheaper i.e. around 15 percent than the steel from above mentioned primary producer. Use of Shyam steel has resulted into passing of undue benefit to contractor. After this stinging remark, CVC has asked the contractor to calculate financial implications and convey the same to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) so that process of recovery could be initiated.

Technical Examiner of the CVC who visited the site has said that site order book was missing alongwith Hindrance Register, Test Register, Cement Register. This is despite the fact that these records are essential for supervision of quality and progress of the work. During the inspection, team further noticed that cement bags were not stored in cement godown as per specifications.

Reinforcement was lying on the ground due to which north port had got rusted. Rutting, ravelling and pot holes were observed at various places on the existing service road. Signage and markings, delineators, hazard markings, safety barriers, pedestrian guardrails were found missing near portals. It needs to be mentioned here that Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MORT&H) has taken a strategic decision to develop the North-South corridor connecting Srinagar (J&K) to Kanya Kumari (Tamil Nadu).

NHAI has been appointed by MORT&H, to implement this development. NHAI have appointed the Louis Berger Group, Inc., USA, in Joint Ventures with LRP Consultants, India and in association with L&T Ramboll, India, and D2 Consultant for Tunnel as consultants to carry out the detailed design, for the Patnitop Tunnel of the NH-1A, between Udhampur and Banihal (Km 66 to Km. 188) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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