Every winter, National Highway 44, the only road link connecting Kashmir to the rest of the country witnesses frequent closures due to snowfall and landslides. But, on days when it is open, there is one-way traffic to prevent snarls on the narrow winding road.

Bringing some relief to thousands of commuters in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, a new tunnel on the Chenani-Nashri stretch of the highway may soon be able to cut travel time between Jammu and Kashmir by more than two hours.

This “engineering marvel” in the difficult Himalayan terrain is 10.89 km long. After missing several deadlines, the much-awaited tunnel is likely to be thrown open to the public.

On April 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to give the green light to India’s longest tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

Here’s what you need to know about the tunnel:

  • Built at a cost of Rs 2,519 crore, the main bi-directional tunnel consists of 9.35-metre wide carriageway with a 5-metre vertical clearance.
  • Along with the main tunnel, there is a parallel escape tunnel for emergencies.
  • The are 29 cross passages at every 300 metres connecting the two tubes.
  • The 10.89 km long tunnel project in J&K connects Udhampur with the Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is part of the proposed widening of NH-44 from Jammu to Srinagar.
  • With the new tunnel, an estimated Rs 27 lakh of fuel will be saved per day.
  • The Tunnel has traffic control systems approaching both north and south.
  • Reduction in traffic on the bypassed 41 Kms will help preserve ecology of the sensitive region.
  • The tunnel boasts an integrated tunnel control system with a fully transverse ventilation system.
  • The tunnel is equipped with video surveillance, power supply, SOS call box, fire fighting and incident detection.
  • The tunnel has been built in a record time of four years.
  • Large-scale deforestation and tree cutting avoided.
  • Travel will cost a Light Motor Vehicle vehicle Rs. 55 on one side and Rs. 85 for 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-sided toll.

The tunnel was scheduled to be completed by May 21, 2016. But due to unrest in the valley, the inauguration was postponed to September 25. Due to landslides on the Nashri side in Ramban district, the formal opening was again delayed and has finally been scheduled to be inaugurated on April 2nd.

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