To make Jammu and Kashmir a developed State, make it an excellent tourist destination, create employment opportunities for the youth and overcome poverty is not a dream anymore as one initiative by the Government is all set to provide a whole new recognition to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Yes, Jammu and Kashmir has become much closer to the rest of India now through the Asia’s longest bi-directional Chenani-Nashri Tunnel (9.28 km long). This tunnel which is also known as Patnitop tunnel has been built in the most difficult terrains of the Himalayas between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu and Kashmir at an elevation of 1200 metres.
April 2, 2017, was a historic moment for Jammu and Kashmir, when the longest road tunnel in India was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi.
Here are some facts about the Asia’s longest highway tunnel you should know:
The Chenani-Nashri project
1. The idea behind building this 9.28 km long tunnel is to connect the districts of Chenani and Nashri. Also to make connectivity easier between Jammu-Kashmir and other states.
2. Construction of the tunnel began on May 23, 2011, in the lower Himalayan mountain range and the total cost of project is INR 3,720 crore.
3. The construction of the tunnel used New Austrian Tunneling method (NATM) technique. Under NATM, the tunnel is sequentially excavated and supported.
4. This tunnel will reduce fuel consumption due to which it is assumed to save INR 27 Lakh every day.
5. Especially, this all-weather tunnel will be open throughout the year and if any person gets injured during avalanches and heavy snowfalls, he can easily reach for medical help through this tunnel.
Smart-Technology and Strategic Importance of the Tunnel
1. This all-weather tunnel is equipped with world-class safety features like surveillance, ventilation, fire control, signals, communication, electrical systems automatically activated by ‘Integrated Tunnel Control System’.
2. The tunnel has a Siren operated censor box (SOS) to deal with emergencies like fire.
3. The speed limit in the tunnel is restricted to 50kmph and vehicles are allowed to use low beams.
4. To make a safe exit in the time of an emergency, the tunnel comprises of 29 cross passages, which are present at every 300 meters.
5. Strategically, this longest tunnel can be also helpful for the Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir for war-like situations. If the enemy plans to target any rural area of Kashmir, this tunnel will help the soldiers to reach the destination and combat on time.
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel which has been described as an “engineering marvel” is all set to bring significant change in the poor transportation system, poor connectivity, traffic jam, long distance and all other commuting problems in Jammu and Kashmir.