POLITICS

PM Inaugurates India's Longest Road Tunnel Linking Kashmir Valley With Jammu

The 9-km-long tunnel reduces the distance by 31 Kms. 

02/04/2017 5:35 PM IST | Updated 02/04/2017 6:58 PM IST
PTI

CHENNAI -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the country's longest road tunnel that links Kashmir Valley with Jammu by an all-weather route and reduces the distance by 31 kms.

The 9-km long 'Chenani–Nashri Tunnel', built at the cost of Rs 2,500 crore, was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister here in presence of Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

After the inauguration, Modi, along with Vohra and Mehbooba, travelled in an open jeep through the tunnel for some distance.

The Prime Minister, the Governor and the Chief Minister then posed for a photograph with the engineers who were involved in construction of the tunnel.

The tunnel, bypassing snow-bound upper reaches, will reduce the journey time by two hours and provide a safe, all- weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar.

The estimated value of daily fuel savings will be to the tune of Rs 27 lakh, according to the PMO.

The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems, and is expected to boost tourism and economic activities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The key features of the tunnel are that it is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35-metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres.

There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with 'Cross Passages' connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres.

The Chenani-Nashri tunnel, built with new Austrian tunnel technology is one of the safest tunnels in the country.

"Its uniqueness is that it has an Integrated Tunnel System, under which all the systems such as Entrance Detection Control System, Electrical Fire Signalling System and Video Surveillance System and Evacuation Broadcast System, are controlled through one particular software," Ashutosh Chandwar, Vice President of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL &FS), told IANS in an interview.

IL&FS bagged the tender for executing the project with NHAI's support.

A unique feature of the tunnel is that at every 150 metres it has an emergency SOS box and a safety evacuation passage connecting to a safety tunnel constructed parallel to the main tunnel.

According to Chandwar, in tunnels abroad such safety techniques require a separate software for every feature, making it difficult to be handled.

Stating that the Chenani-Nashri tunnel can be called the "safest highway tunnel in the country", Chandwar said that the tunnel also has specialised cameras which would count the number of vehicles in the tunnel and accordingly set the speed limit.

"The Traffic Control System in the tunnel has green and red lights, the speed limit signs and others are variable signs depending upon the traffic condition inside the tunnel," said Chandwar.

A unique feature of the tunnel is that at every 150 metres it has an emergency SOS box and a safety evacuation passage connecting to a safety tunnel constructed parallel to the main tunnel.

"The tunnel has an Incident Detection Systems under which if any accident happens, our control team will get to know before the victim contacts us through the SOS call box. Accordingly, our rescue team will help in evacuation of the person and vehicle through the safety tunnel," said Chandwar. He said the tunnel has hydrants at every 150 metres, to tackle any kind of fire incidents.

According to Chandwar, who has been monitoring every development related to construction of the tunnel, at every 75 metres there is a video surveillance monitor through which cameras will help in detection of any "suspicious acts" by anyone inside the tunnel.

"There is a tube to provide fresh air. Everything is well managed," said Chandwar.

According to official statistics, the entire project was completed in five years and it was closely monitored by the Ministry Of Road, Transport and Highways.

Chandwar, who was earlier with the National Highways Authority of India, said the tunnel also has a special drainage system to flush out water flowing in from the mountains and to use it for fire fighting and construction activities.

"This tunnel is completely dry, which means not a single drop of water will be present in the entire tunnel. To make it dry we have put a water proofing membrane behind the concrete walls. Behind the membrane there is a system which collects the water coming out from the mountains and takes it to a central drain. Once collected the water is saved for captive use such as fire fighting and construction activities. This water is rock water so it is completely safe for drinking as well," said Chandwar.

On the difficulties faced while executing the project, Chandwar said the tunnel has an "over burden" of 1,100 metres which means over the tunnel there was a mountain of 1,100 metres, and in such a situation when the mountains are dug there is a immense pressure from both sides of the mountain, creating difficulties in construction.

"We also faced severe difficulties in taking the construction material inside and taking out the excavated material, as there were only two ways to enter the tunnel. The third challenge was to maintain the ventilation system for the workers inside as they should get enough oxygen. We were compelled to install ventilation ducts and fans," said Chandwar.

The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) has also decided to replicate the technology for the upcoming 14 km Zoji la tunnel, between Leh and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.

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