Chenani: India’s longest road tunnel built on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will open to traffic very soon following successful completion of trial run. 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 lower Himalayan mountain range, and cost Rs. 3,720 crore, officials said.
The tunnel, which is located at an elevation of 1,200 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.
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 said.
“The formal trial run was successfully completed for peak, off peak hours between March 9 and March 15,” Project Director, IL&FS, J S Rathore told news agency PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate the highway tunnel by the end of March. “The tunnel will be formally thrown open to general vehicular traffic after the inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon,” Mr Rathore said. 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, Mr Rathore said.
Travel will cost a Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) Rs. 55 on one side and Rs. 85 for to-and-fro journey and Rs. 1,870 for a month’s travel, while bigger vehicles like mini buses will have pay Rs. 90 as one side toll and Rs. 135 for to-and-fro toll. Buses and trucks will have pay Rs. 190 as one side toll and Rs. 285 as two side toll.
Highlighting the salient features of this state-of-art hi-tech tunnel, Mr Rathore informed that Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Company has setup a well-equipped fully computerised operation room for surveillance of vehicles inside the twin tubes.
“For feeding input to the aforesaid Operation Room, 124 CCTV cameras have been installed at equal intervals of 75 meters, three tier system has been fitted to light-up the tunnels round the clock,” Mr Rathore said.
An innovative SOS system has also been introduced to make contact with the team sitting in the Operation Room in case of an emergency besides effective fire fighting gadgets and hyper-sensitive ventilation system to ensure hassle free journey. “The maximum speed limit permitted for vehicles plying inside twin tunnel tubes is 50 km per hour with head lights on at low beam. “Containers carrying inflammable material are banned from entering the tunnel,” he said.