Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company Limited (STEC) has been selected to build a 5.6-km tunnel for the Delhi-to-Meerut Regional Rapid Rail Transit System, one of three major transit systems planned to knit together the Delhi National Capital Region.
The award, reported by the Press Trust of India, comes after India’s transport minister banned Chinese companies from road-building projects after a brawl on the border with China resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers in June 2020.
STEC’s emergence at the time as the lowest of five bidders for the tunnel project sparked controversy, but the 82-km-long railway is being funded by the Asian Development Bank and STEC qualifies under its rules.
The Chinese company submitted a bid of $153.8m (1,126.9 crore rupees), beating Indian firm Larsen & Toubro’s second-lowest bid of $159.7m (1,170 crore rupees).
STEC will now build the underground section from New Ashok Nagar to Sahibabad.
Awarding the contract is the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
"Approvals have to be taken at various levels for bids that are funded by multilateral agencies. This bid was also awarded following the set procedure and guidelines," an NCRTC spokesman said, adding that all the civil work tenders railway had been awarded and construction was "going on in full swing".
The NCRTC invited bids for the tunnel on 9 November 2019.
The new line, set to be India’s first rapid rail transit system, will carry passengers between Delhi and the city of Meerut to the northeast in less than an hour, an improvement of three to four hours by road.
STEC’s tunnel section lies on a 17-km section from Sahibabad to Duhai, set to begin operating in 2023, ahead of the entire line opening for business in 2025.
Image: Celebrations at the National Capital Region Transport Corporation’s Annual Day, August 2019 (From the website of the NCRTC)