Four international bidders in consortium with Indian partners are in the race for preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for the country's first underwater tunnel. The government is planning to develop immersed tunnels between Kakdwip and Sagar Island in West Bengal, and Chatham and Bamboo Flat in the Andaman Nicobar Islands.
The two projects could together cost around Rs 3,000 crore. If the Bengal project is found viable after DPRs, it would be India's first underwater tunnel in the Muri Ganga river, stretched over 3.5 km. This would have both rail and road links, and is estimated to cost around Rs 2,000 crore. The other option being examined is an elevated rail-road link connecting Kakdwip and Sagar Island. The government intends to set up a port at Sagar Island, and the proposed connectivity will ensure hassle-free movement of cargo, said an official.
The other proposed stretch is about 2 km, connecting Chatham and Bamboo Flat in Andaman Nicobar Islands. In the absence of any direct connectivity, people often travel 48 km via road. Even here, the government is looking at both elevated and underwater options, but it would have only road connectivity since Andaman is not connected by rail.
The National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) had invited consultants for preparing DPR. "The consultants, who have evinced interest in these two projects, are from Switzerland, Hong Kong, the US and Denmark," said an official, who did not divulge the names of consultants.
The consultants would be required to submit their reports within nine months of the project being awarded. Anand Kumar, managing director, NHIDCL, said, "The selected bidders will make two reports - for building elevated stretches, and immersed tunnels. Based on technical feasibility and economic viability, the ministry will take a call on whether to build a tunnel or an elevated stretch."