On completion of the project, it would reduce the road distance between Banihal in Jammu province and Qazigund in south Kashmir by a distance of 16 km from the present 35 km.
The work on the project, worth Rs 2100 crore started in June 2011 by the Navyuga engineering firm.
Banihal-Qazigund tunnel project: The work is nearing completion on the double tube 8.5-km-long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel along the 270-km-long Jammu-Srinagar NH and is expected to be thrown open to the public in the month of March. The work on the project, worth Rs 2100 crore started in June 2011 by the Navyuga engineering firm. On completion of the project, it would reduce the road distance between Banihal in Jammu province and Qazigund in south Kashmir by a distance of 16 km from the present 35 km. It will bypass Jawahar Tunnel as well as Shaitan Nalla, which is prone to heavy snowfall and slippery conditions during the winter season, according to a PTI report.
Chief Manager, Navayuga Engineering Company, Muneeb Tak was quoted in the report saying that the work within and outside is in the final stage and it is likely to be thrown open for traffic in the last week of March. According to the report, the existing road tunnel below the Banihal pass has been a bottleneck on the approximately 265-km long highway, which is the only all weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of India, due to its elevation of 2,194 metres (7,198 ft) and limited traffic capacity.
The average elevation of the new tunnel is at 1,790 metres (5,870 ft), which is 400 metres lower than the elevation of the existing Jawahar tunnel. This would make it less prone to avalanches as well as fulfill the dream of expressway between Srinagar and Banihal. The tunnel is an engineering masterpiece and has been constructed from the Austrian tunneling method (ATM), Tak said.
The Banihal-Qazigund tunnel project has been developed on the Build Operate and Transfer Base System along with a state-of-the-art exhaust system in order to remove gas as well as bring in fresh air. As many as 126 jet fans, 234 CCTVs as well as a firefighting system are being installed in the tunnel’s both tubes for which the work is underway. According to Tak, a corridor between two tubes inside the tunnel after every 500 meters has been developed and this can be utilized in any emergency case in either tube.
In the last 10 years, the tunnel work was delayed due to several reasons and many project deadlines were missed because of unexpected land condition, alleged financial crisis in the construction firm as well as some issues related to local landlords and company staff, which resulted in a number of work shutdowns in the project, the report added.