Prime Minister today inaugurates India’s longest road tunnel built on the Jammu- Srinagar national highways, which will cut short the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by nearly 30kms. “The Prime Minister inaugurated the Chennai- Nashri tunnel on JK highway on April 2,” and addressed a public rally after dedicating the tunnel project to the nation. The work on the 9.2 km-long twin-tube tunnel which is part of a 286-km long four-lane project on the highway mountain range, and cost Rs. 3,720 crore, officials quoted. The tunnel, which is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres, which will be one of its kind and will be the first in India to be equipped with world class “integrated tunnel control system”, through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication, and electrical systems will be automatically actuated.
The most important advantage of this tunnel is that it will reduce the travel time between the two state capitals of Jammu and Srinagar by two and a half hours. The road distance from Chennai and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of the existing 41 km, the officials confirmed. IL&FS is all set to handover the tunnel project to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) soon after its formal inauguration by the Prime Minister. “The formal trial run was successfully completed for peak, off peak hours between March 9th and March 15th Project Director IL & FS, J S Rathore said.
When the tunnel becomes operational, we will definitely see a visible change in the level of traffic in National Highway, 1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanches in winter at Patnitop, Mr. J S Rathore said. The Travel will also cost an LMV vehicle Rs.55 on one side and Rs.85 for to-and-fro journey and Rs. 1,870 for one month travel, while slightly bigger vehicles like mini buses, will have to pay Rs.90 as one side toll and Rs.135 for to-and-fro toll. Mr. Rathore also said that infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL & FS) Company has set-up a well-equipped fully computerized operation room for surveillance of each and every vehicle inside the twin tubes. Mr. Rathore also further said that “For Feeding input to the Operation Room, 124 CCTV cameras have been installed at equal intervals of 75 metres, three-tier system has been fitted to light-up the tunnels around the clock”.
In the Operation room, there is an SOS system has also been introduced to make contact with the team sitting in the Operation Room in case of an emergency besides effective firefighting gadgets and hyper-sensitive ventilation system to ensure hassle free journey. “The maximum speed limit permitted for vehicles plying inside twin tunnel tubes is 50 Km per hour with head lights on at low beam. Containers which carry inflammable materials are completely banned from entering the tunnel”, he said. Mr. Rathore said maximum height limit permitted is five metres and for checking the height special censors have been installed just before the toll points at both the ends. Mr. Rathore also further added “Besides providing mobile network of telecom operators, FM Radio channels, facility is also functional inside the tunnel”, he said.
The tunnel project also involves construction of 9-km long two lanes (13 metre diameter) of main tunnel along with parallel escape tunnel (6 Diameter) interconnected with 29 cross passages at 300 metre interval. Rs.27 lakh worth of fuel is likely to be saved per day. This tunnel will also ensure preservation of pristine forest in utmost ecological sensitive Patnitop area and will also provide for better integration of Jammu not only with people of Kashmir but also with Kishtwar, Doda and Bhaderwah by providing better connectivity.
PM Modi will dedicate to the Nation Asia’s longest bi-directional road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on April 2, which will cut down travel time between the two by two hours. The Rs. 2,519 cr. All- weather tunnel is equipped with world class safety features and has been built in record four years on the hilly terrain of Jammu and Kashmir, road transport, and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said at a Press meet. “This State -of- the- art 10.89 km tunnel between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu and Kashmir, an engineering marvel on the most difficult terrain of the Himalayas, was built in a record of four years,” the Minister said.
Mr. Gadkari was accompanied by the project will result in a saving of Rs.27 lakh per day based on traffic estimates and would cut the travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 41 Km ‘, Gadkari said. He also said the tunnel will be equipped with advanced scanners to ward off any security threat. The project forms part of the proposed widening of NH -44 (old NH 1A) from Jammu to Srinagar. The longest highway tunnel in India also happens to be Asia’s longest bi- directional highway tunnel transverse ventilation system, communication, power supply, incident detection, SOS call box and firefighting.
Mr. Gadkari also further said it will boost economic activity and tourism in the state, adding that it has precluded large-scale deforestation as tree cutting was not required. The work on the twin-tube tunnel, which is part of a 286 km long for-lane project on the highway, started on May 23, 2011, in the lower Himalayan mountain range. The tunnel is all set to be handed over to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
The Project has been providing employment opportunities about 2,000 unskilled and skilled youth of Jammu n Kashmir as 94 per cent of the work force has employed from the state. This project has oiled the wheels of progress and made Kashmir move towards Vikas Ki Aur, and proved that Kashmir is an integral part of India, and people of Kashmris also believe and want only Vikas & Vikas nothing else.
Dr Sukanya Iyer