Good news! India’s longest road tunnel built on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will open to traffic very soon. The trial run has already taken place on Sunday. According to officials, the tunnel will also ensure preservation of pristine forest in ecological sensitive Patnitop area and will provide for better integration of Jammu. The project has provided employment to about 2,000 unskilled and skilled youth of Jammu and Kashmir. Here are five things to know about the tunnel:
1) The work on the 9.2 km-long twin-tube tunnel, which is part of a 286-km-long four-lane project on the highway, started on May 23, 2011, in the lower Himalayan mountain range, and cost Rs 3,720 crore, officials said.
2) The tunnel, which is located at an elevation of 1200 meters, will be the first in India to be equipped with world class “integrated tunnel control system” through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems will be automatically actuated.
3) It will reduce the travel time between the two state capitals of Jammu and Srinagar by two-and-a-half hours. The road distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of the existing 41 km, officials added.
4) The tunnel will be formally thrown open to general vehicular traffic after the inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon. Once the tunnel becomes operational, it will reduce the traffic jams on National Highway-1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanches in winter at Patnitop.
5) Travel will cost an LMV vehicle Rs 55 on one side and Rs 85 for a to-and-fro journey and Rs 1,870 for one month travel, while bigger vehicles like mini buses will have pay Rs 90 as one side toll and Rs 135 for a to-and-fro toll. Buses and trucks will have pay Rs 190 as one side toll and Rs 285 as two side toll.
“The tunnel will provide safe and an all-weather route that will result in a significant time savings to motorists travelling along highway between Jammu and Srinagar, which is prone to frequent and long period traffic jams due to landslides, snow and sharp curves breakdown of vehicles and accidents”, Project Director, IL&FS, J S Rathore said. Rs 27 lakh worth of fuel is likely to be saved per day, he added.