Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the Chenani-Nashri tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway on April 2. This tunnel will be the longest in India, as well as the longest bi-direction road tunnel in Asia, stretching over 10.89 km. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways stated that the tunnel was “an engineering marvel on the most difficult terrain of the Himalayas”, which took four years to complete.
Facilities and Benefits
The tunnel will reduce the travel time between the two cities of Jammu to Srinagar by two hours, and the distance by 41 km. The tunnel will ensure connectivity throughout the year, and will not be obstructed during winter season or due to any natural disasters such as landslides. An estimated saving Rs. 27 lakh per day will result from the tunnel, based on traffic estimates, as claimed by Gadkari.
The Rs. 2,519-crore all-weather tunnel is equipped with a fully integrated control system that provides facilities such as radio frequency, communication, ventilation, power supply, SOS call box, fire fighting and incident detection. Gadkari claimed that the tunnel has world-class safety features including a parallel 9-km long escape tunnel.
He further added that the tunnel would be installed with advanced scanners to restrict any security threats. The tunnel is also integrated with intelligent traffic mechanism, and hence will be fully automated with no human intervention required for its operations.
Gadkari elaborates saying that the tunnel would boost economic activity and tourism in the state, adding that it has precluded large-scale deforestation, as it cutting trees was not required.
Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) will be charged at Rs. 55 and Rs. 85 for one-way and two-way journeys respectively. Commuters can also avail one-month travel passes at Rs. 1,870. Mini buses will be charged Rs. 90 for one-way, and Rs. 135 for two-way journeys. Similarly, larger vehicles like buses and trucks will pay Rs. 190 and Rs. 285 for one-way and two-way journeys respectively.
The tunnel is located at an elevation of 1,200 meters, and was constructed by IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services). The tunnel will be handed over to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) soon after its formal inauguration on April 2nd, by the Prime Minister.
IL&FS Project Director, J S Rathore said,
“The formal trial run was successfully completed for peak and off-peak hours between 9 March and 15 March”. He further stated that the tunnel would reduce traffic jams on National Highway-1A, which usually occurs as a result of snowfall and avalanches in winter at Patnitop.
Rathore finally also highlighted the well-equipped and fully automated operation room for surveillance of vehicle inside the twin tubes.
Finally, the project has been dubbed as a “state of the art engineering marvel in the most difficult terrain of Himalayas”.