Work On India's Longest Road Tunnel Starts In Udhampur2 September 2011
The Economic Times
Chenani: Work on India's longest road tunnel today started with engineers blasting a portion of a hill to clear way for construction of the 9-km long Chenani- Nashri Tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur district. Australian company Leighton Welston, renowned for tunnelling technology, began the project by triggering the blast this afternoon. 'We have started the work today on this prestigious project. The twin tunnels which will come on Jammu-Srinagar national highway is one of the longest road tunnel in Asia and also in India,' Managing Director of Leighton Welston, Russell Waug told reporters at the project site here. The twin tunnels will come up in a period of next five years at a cost of Rs 2,600 crore, he said, adding that it will also reduce the length of the highway as well as the travel time between Srinagar and Jammu. The two-lane main tunnel will have a diameter of 13.3 m, while a parallel escape route shall have a diameter of 5 m. Engineers will use the NATM technique of sequential excavation and support for executing the project, he said. The completion of the first section of the tunnel comprising of all the portal sections represents the key milestones for the project, he said. A team of over 800 staff and 200 strong work force, armed with sophisticated drilling machines, will daily bore around 5 m of the main tunnel and 8 m of the escape route, he said. In reply to a question about the challenges of the project, Waug said that Jammu and Kashmir has young Himalayas which keeps shifting thereby posing great challenges for tunnel construction. He said that the tunnel would have a life span of more than 100 years and is expected to be completed before the expected deadline. The construction team will continue to tunnel through the mountain to construct an all weather road connecting Chenani with Nashri, slashing 30-km of the journey and reducing the time travel by one hour. 'We are pleased to see this nationally important project underway. It is not only a landmark project in the history of India's transportation network but will bring increase safety and employment to local community,' the MD said. 'Our focus is to complete the project on schedule and to be an integral part of the Jammu's progress and development,' he said.