Intro: India’s longest road tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar national highway would not only speed up the economic growth but also bring closer the people of different regions of this State with difficult terrain.
After the IIT, AIIMS and smart cities, the better road infrastructure is in the priority list of central government that it has prepared for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has three parts namely Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir. J&K is a difficult terrain which lacks basic road infrastructure. The connectivity in the rural of Ladakh and Jammu is the evidence of the neglect of these two regions in the regimes of previous governments.
Improvement in the road infrastructure would not only speed up the economic growth but would also bring closer the people of different regions of this state with difficult terrain. India’s longest road tunnel built on Jammu-Srinagar national highway had undergone with the last blast on July 13. Final hole was drilled between Chenani and Nashri of Jammu & Kashmir. Union road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari was present there to witness “final blast ceremony” along with Nirmal Singh who is deputy Chief Minister of the State. The 9.2 km tunnel will reduce the distance between Udhampur and Ramban of Jammu region by around 30 km. As per an estimate, this tunnel will lead to saving of fuel worth Rs 27 lakh per day once it opens for transport.
Not only this tunnel will cut short time and distance between J&K regions but would also ensure all weather connectivity between the two. The region of tunnel sees heavy snowfall during winter and connectivity is the biggest concerns of all. All weather worries would be gone forever after the tunnel would open to transport for general public next year. “It will take another 10 months to complete the allied works before the road is thrown open to traffic,” said RP Singh, project director, National Highways Authority of India.
Nitin Gadkari promised that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself would be present to inaugurate the tunnel when it would open for public. “I will bring PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate it,” Gadkari told engineers and other workers of the IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd who excavated the tunnel using New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) in a record time of less than four years. Tunnel met all safety standards with state-of-the-art facilities, including fire safety and control. Tunnel has a parallel escape tunnel interconnected by 29 cross passages at intervals of 300 meters.
It will be used exclusively for pedestrians. This project will also have parking spots after a specific distance to tow away or shift vehicles in case of a breakdown. This tunnel will be the first in India equipped with world class Integrated Tunnel Control System (ITCS) through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication, electrical systems tolling, etc will be automatically actuated. We already are aware of the initiatives of the central government that it has taken on the front of road infrastructure in the rural Ladakh and borders areas. For other connectivity projects, Indian railways is also working day and night. Work is already going on other tunnels which are the project of Indian railways in the State.Clearly, there are priorities at right place and with that the hope of the people of J&K in coming out of ill-phase is also progressing.
Arvind (The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Center, New Delhi)