A joint venture between two Chinese companies, China Gezhouba Group and the China Machinery Export Corporation, is to build a 47km long water diversion tunnel as part of a US$1.5bn contract to the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-Electric Project, in Pakistan.

The contract was awarded by Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and work is scheduled to take about eight years. The scheme will be built near Muzaffarabad in Jammu and Kashmir.

In India, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is hoping to start work early 2008 on construction of a 8.8km tunnel through the Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal mountain range in the Himalayas.

Australian consultant Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) was appointed a year ago to carry out the design of the tunnel and act as technical adviser.

BRO’s plans involve excavating the 10m wide tunnel by TBM. The northern portal of the Rohtang tunnel is likely to be built at 3055m above sea level, while the southern portal will be at a slightly higher elevation at 3080m, according to SMEC.

In Malaysia, a 12.6km long water transfer tunnel is to be built by local firm Zecon under a US$36.75M contract awarded by Jabatan Bekalan Air Negeri Sembilan.

The contract is part of the Sungai Teriang water transfer scheme in Negri Sembilan. The 3.5m dia tunnel will be built by TBM and is due for completion by July 2010.