New tunnel opens in troubled Indian Kashmir to ease travel

Miranda GreerApr 03, 2017

Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Emphasising that the Chenani-Nashri tunnel would bolster tourism and increase employment in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked the youth to shed terrorism and adopt tourism, adding that the path of bloodshed would never help the state to prosper. The tunnel will save fuel worth almost Rs. 99 crores a year.

According to an estimate, the twin-tube tunnel will result in a saving of over Rs 27 lakh in fuel per day.

The state-of-the-art tunnel will reduce the distance between the two capitals of Jammu and Kashmir by 30 kms. "It will boost economic activities and tourism in Jammu and Kashmir", the statement said.

The tunnel itself measures 10.9 km, which makes it eligible to be listed among the longest highway tunnels in Asia.

The tunnel, which took over five years to build, will also bypass some 44 avalanche - and landslide -prone spots on the almost 300-km-long highway, which shuts when it rains heavily and snows in Kashmir.

Another important aspect is that the opening of the tunnel will reduce traffic jams that the National Highway-1A is prone to on account of snowfall and avalanches in winters at Patnitop.

In an indirect attack on Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said people on the other side of the border are not able to handle themselves.

Modi drove in an open jeep through the all-weather route, which is expected to help trade and tourism in the region.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, senior ministers of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta, Council Chairman Haji Inayat Ali and top army, police and civil administration officials welcomed PM Modi when he arrived in Udhampur. He again invoked former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's doctrine of "Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat aur Kashmiriyat (humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat - the ethno-national and social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people)", and said this "prime motto" would be used to take the state to new heights of development. "I want to tell the misguided youths of Kashmir valley, realise the power of a stone".

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

Ventilation systems for such long tunnels are essential to maintain clean air, permissible carbon dioxide levels and expel harmful vehicle emissions.

Safety and security have also been given utmost importance, as the tunnel comes with an integrated tunnel control system' that allows ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems to be automatically actuated.

The inauguration of the Chenani-Nashri is a "proud moment", and will bring about a "revolution" in Jammu and Kashmir, Jitendra Singh said.

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