Connecting Chenani and Nashri in Jammu and Kashmir, the 9.2 long tunnel is set to open this month. It would be India’s longest tunnel. Touted as the “Tunnel of Hope” in Kashmir, the structure ensuring all-weather connectivity will reduce the distance between Jammu and Kashmir by 38km.
According to reports, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has indicated that PM Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate the project. Top police officers of Jammu & Kashmir reportedly reviewed security at the venue and took stock of the arrangements on Wednesday.
Work for the 9.2km tunnel started in May 2011 and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had laid the foundation stone. It was originally scheduled for completion by August last year.
“This project along with the other tunnel between Quazigund and Banihal on this corridor will be a big boost to state’s economy. These two projects will provide all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and reduce the distance by at least 50km, saving at least two-and-half-hours journey,” an NHAI official said.
The 8.45 km Quazigund-Banihal tunnel is scheduled for completion by March 2018.
The Chenani-Nashri connectivity will be a single tunnel with 9.3-metre width and an escape tunnel fo an emergency while Quazigund-Banihal stretch will have twin tubes with a width of seven metres each.
At present, it takes about 10-11-hours to go from one city to the other under normal weather conditions. The two tunnels will also end traffic jam on NH-1 A due to heavy snowfall during winters and landslides in monsoons.
While the all-weather tunnels will help traders transport fruits produced from this region to other parts of the country, it will also ensure a seamless supply of essential items to the valley even during winter and rainy season. This will also boost food processing industry in the region and generate jobs for locals.
Currently, between October and January, Kashmir supplies at least 200 truckloads of apple every day to the rest of the country. The supply of pomegranates and other fruits is also significant from this region. It is widely believed that poor connectivity of Kashmir with the rest of the country has been a major impediment in the growth of the food processing industry in the state.