SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated and threw open country’s longest and Asia’s first bi-directional road tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Jammu and Kashmir amidst tight security measures and shutdown in Valley.
He dedicated to nation 10.8 kms long Chenani-Nashri tunnel in J&K, which is India’s first and the world’s sixth tunnel to have transverse ventilation system, providing fresh air to passengers.
Union Minister of Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Governor N N Vohra, Union MoS PMO Jitendra Singh and other top leaders were present on the occasion.
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is twin-tube, all-weather tunnel connecting Udhampur and Ramban districts in Jammu and Kashmir. It is built at an elevation of 1200 metres on one of the most difficult Himalayan terrains.
The tunnel will cut the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 kms and ensure safe and swift passage for commuters even in adverse weather conditions. It will reduce the journey on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which is only road link connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, by two hours.
Valley is totally dependent on the highway for supplies. During winters, the highway remains blocked due to heavy snowfall causing food shortage in the Valley.
The tunnel work had started in May 2011.
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According to ABB India, the tunnel has a transverse ventilation system enabled by ABB drives and controlled by ABB software.
For such long tunnels, ventilation systems are essential to maintain clean air, permissible carbon dioxide levels and expel harmful vehicle emissions. To ensure smooth travel and safety of commuters, ABB has designed, engineered and supplied low harmonics variable speed drive (VSD) system for tunnel ventilation. The VSDs and motors are installed at the North (Nashri) and South (Chenani) portals for air supply and exhaust. These VSDs are also equipped with inbuilt redundancy to ensure minimum downtime.
Constructed at a cost of about Rs 3720 crores, the tunnel comprises a 9 km long, two-laned main tunnel with a parallel escape tunnel of same length. The two tunnels are connected by 29 cross passages at regular intervals along the entire length of the tunnel.
According to officials, the cross passages can be used for evacuation of vehicles and commuters in case of breakdown or any other emergency.
There are two minor bridges on the south and north sides and 4-lane approach roads with Toll Plazas on both ends of the tunnel. The maximum height permitted in the tunnel is 5 meters and for checking the height special sensors have been installed just before the toll points at both ends.
“The tunnel has an efficient, transverse ventilation system. There are inlets bringing fresh air at 8 metre intervals and outlet for exhaust every 100 metres. There is also a fully-integrated control system with ventilation, communication, power supply, incident detection, SOS call box and fire fighting. Fitted with intelligent traffic mechanism, the tunnel has fully automatic smart control and no human intervention will be required for its operations,” the officials said.
According to them, the tunnel is also equipped with advanced scanners to ward off any security threat. About 124 CCTV cameras have been installed at equal intervals of 75 meters feeding information to the operation room.
Very few tunnels in the world have this kind of fully integrated tunnel control.
The time saved by tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu national highway will result in fuel saving of approximately Rs 27 lakhs per day.
The tunnel is a part of National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) project between Jammu and Srinagar, along National Highway 44. The existing route between the towns of Chenani and Nashri passes through Patnitop and is prone to heavy snowfall and avalanches leading to frequent roadblocks and unsafe travel.
Meanwhile, tight security measures were put in place for PM’s visit to the State.
The police, army, paramilitary personnel and commandos were deployed for security purpose to thwart any militant threat.
The heightened security measures were also put in place in view of the shutdown called by separatists groups and militant outfits in the Valley.
The normal life in the Valley was disrupted by the shutdown. The shops and business establishments remained closed while public transport was off the roads. However, private transport was plying.