NEW DELHI: India’s longest road tunnel, which will cut the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km, will be completed on Monday with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) engineers drilling a hole through the final section of the 9.2-km tunnel between Chenani and Nashri in Jammu and Kashmir.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will be present during the final blast ceremony of the tunnel, which will reduce traffic snarls that occur due to snowfall and avalanche in the winter at Patnitop on National Highway-1A.
The state-of-the-art tunnel is being built simultaneously from both ends and NHAI teams will meet at the centre by drilling a hole through the final section. The tunnel is part of the ambitious 286 km-long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The road is likely to be opened for traffic in July next year.
Work on the tunnel started on May 23, 2011. The tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, is being built at a cost of over Rs 2,500 crore. It will also reduce the existing road distance between two points on the highway from 41 km to 10.89 km.
The NHAI is also constructing a parallel escape tunnel along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in case of any eventuality.
The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 ‘cross-passages’ (each at a gap of 300 meters) and the escape tunnel will exclusively be for the use of pedestrians.
Given the distance of the tunnel, there is also a provision for ventilation.
It will have parking spots at specific intervals to tow or shift vehicles in case of a breakdown.
The four-lane project would go a long way in creating an all-weather road to the Kashmir valley.