Jammu-Srinagar Drive Will Get Shorter From June Next Year

12 July 2015
Times of India
Dipak K Dash

New Delhi: Come June 2016, the drive between Jammu and Srinagar will be smoother and shorter even during monsoons and winters, with one of the 'tunnels of hope' connecting the two capitals of Jammu & Kashmir getting completed. The tunnelling work of the country's longest tunnel on Chenani-Nasri stretch will be completed on Monday, which is technically known as 'daylighting'. Work on the 9.2km tunnel connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nasri in Ramban district has been on schedule since work started in March 2011. 'The digging of tunnel from two ends will finally meet on Monday,' regional officer of NHAI RP Singh said. Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari will be present at the site on Monday. The tunnel will cut the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30km and reduce traffic jams on NH-1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanche in winter at Patnitop. The other tunnel connecting Quazigund and Banihal stretch (8.45km) also started in March 2011 and was scheduled for completion by June 2016. But sources said the project would get delayed by 9-10 months. So far, tunnelling has been completed for about 5.5km. TOI has learnt that work slowed down on this stretch due to soil conditions that engineers encountered during tunnelling. 'Now, everything is going smoothly and we are hopeful of the project moving fast,' said an NHAI official. Completion of both tunnels will reduce the distance between the two capitals by at least 50km and travel time will come down by about two-and-a-half hours. At present, covering this stretch takes at least 10-11 hours during normal days. The two tunnels will also make the highway an all-weather road in comparison to the routine traffic disruption that happens now due to heavy snowfall during winters and landslides in monsoons. There will be a single tunnel with 9.3 metres width on Chenani-Nasri stretch with an escape tunnel for emergency. But the Quazigund-Banihal stretch will have twin tubes of seven metres width each.