India’s longest road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today marking a significant step for India’s geopolitics.
The 10.89 km tunnel is built at an altitude of 1,200 metres at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore. It is expected to cut the travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar by about 40 kilometres. The distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 kms, instead of the existing 41 kms. This will save passengers over two hours of travel time as the tunnel will bypass the disaster prone Kud, Patnitop and Batote on National Highway 44.
The tunnel will have both economic and strategic benefits. It is an all-weather route which will be an alternative to the highway that is closed during heavy snowfall and rains. This increases accessibility and also allows tightening of security along the borders. Economically, the tunnel will boost trade and tourism, bringing in more revenue for the state. It also promises fuel savings of over Rs 27 lakh per day and will also provide better connectivity to people in Kishtwar, Doda and Bhaderwah in the Jammu region.
The twin-tube tunnel is part of National Highway Authority of India's (NHAI's) 286-km-long four-lane project on the highway and forms part of the proposed widening of NH-44 from Jammu to Srinagar. It has an integrated system that will control communication, ventilation, video surveillance, power supply, SOS call box, fire fighting and incident detection and an FM signal repeater.