Will reduce distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 31 km, travel time by 2 hours
The wait is finally over for all-weather road connectivity to the Kashmir Valley as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the state on April 2 to inaugurate Southeast Asia’s longest road tunnel between Chenani and Nashri on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
The 9.2-km tunnel, part of the ambitious 286-km-long four-laning project of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will reduce the distance between the two capital cities — Jammu and Srinagar — by around 30 km and save the journey time by two hours.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the nodal agency for the project, completed the successful trial run of the tunnel between March 9 and March 14. The tunnel has been closed to traffic till its inauguration.
“We have received an official communication that the Prime Minister will inaugurate the Chenani-Nashri tunnel on April 2. We have geared up to make all arrangements for the event,” said Niraj Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur.
The work on the tunnel was started on May 23, 2011. Its expected date of completion was May 2016 but work got delayed due to technical rea-sons and “unavoidable circumstances”.
The two-lane tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur district with Nashri in Ramban district, will reduce the existing road distance between the two points on the highway from 41 km to 10.89 km.
Built at a whopping cost of Rs 3,720 crore, the tunnel will be the first in the country to be equipped with world-class integrated tunnel control system through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electronic tolling system will be automatically actuated.
It will save fuel to the tune of Rs 27 lakh per day between Chenani and Nashri and will cost a light motor vehicle Rs 55 for one-way journey and Rs 85 for the two-way journey. For a month’s travel, the motorists will have to shell out Rs 1,870.
“The tunnel has been illuminated with around 4,000 lights. About 600 bulbs of 150 Watt are installed in the escape tunnels while 1,200 lamps illuminate footpaths on both sides. Besides, 120 traffic signals have been installed for the lighting purpose,” official sources said, adding that at least 124 CCTV cameras have been installed at equal intervals of 75 m to keep round-the-clock surveillance on the movement of vehicles inside the tunnel. The maximum speed limit to be followed in the tunnel is 50kmph. The mobile network of telecom operators, including Airtel, Idea and BSNL, and 92.7 FM facility is also functional inside the tunnel.
Official sources said the Prime Minister was also scheduled to address a public rally after inaugurating the tunnel. “The Prime Minister will reach Udhampur from Allahabad at 2.30 pm and then fly to Chenani, where he will inaugurate the tunnel at 3 pm. After the inauguration, he will address a public rally. He will return to New Delhi by 4.30 pm,” they said.
The NHAI has also constructed a parallel escape tunnel (6 m in diameter) along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in case of any eventuality.