Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Service (IL&FS) has emerged as the lowest bidder for the 14-km-long Zojila Tunnel road project in the mountainous northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The scheme is intended to create an all-year link between Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, and the city of Leh in the northeast. At present Leh is cut off by snow from the rest of India for about for six months of the year.Â
The project was expected to cost about $1bn, however Mumbai-based IL&FS has offered to carry it out on a turnkey basis over seven years for $760m, a price that other Indian contractors found "stunning".Â
The other companies in the running to build the 3.5-km-high link are two other Mumbai firms, Larson & Toubro and Reliance Infrastructure, and Noida-based Jaiprakash Associates.
Last year, the project was awarded to IRB Infrastructure, another Mumbai contractor, and a specialist in build, operate, transfer road projects. This award was annulled and the project put out for tender again after allegations were made that the Road Transport and Highways Ministry has violated competition guidelines.
Image: Jammu and Kashmir’s northern cities are cut off for much of the year (YouTube)