Jammu and Kashmir News
Jammu, July 16 : The longest tunnel in India, connecting Chenani in Udhampur to Nashri in Ramban, it likely to open by the end of September this year. Keeping in view its significance and the fact that it is the longest road tunnel in the country, PM Narendra Modi is understood to be invited for its formal inauguration.
After a series of high level meetings of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials and the Concessionaire IL & FS, delved into the ongoing and the pending work, they decided a new deadline for the opening.
As per reports from a local daily, more than 90 per cent of the civil work on the project has been completed, however, the installation of equipment and gadgets such as Sound Diffuser, Ventilators, Fans, Fire fighters, Electrical Panels and Transformers etc. inside the tunnel is likely to be completed by the month of August. The installations will be followed by their testing. This testing phase may take up to 30 to 40 days. And the tunnel will be open to traffic by the end of September, most likely September 25.
This new deadline is three months later than the initial time set for the opening of the project. It was set as May 21 at first, then pushed to July 10 and now finally to September 25.
Confirming that the ongoing work on the tunnel project is in its final phase, the Regional Officer of NHAI, R P Singh, stated that the pending tasks like the construction of pavements inside the tunnel, link roads, electrification, installation of equipment and their testing are likely to be finished in the next two months. In addition, around 1100 meter pavement road in the main tunnel and 7 km in the Escape tunnel from Chenani end is ready while more than 50 per cent work on electrification and 40 per cent on the ventilation system has been completed.
The Regional officer admitted that the external work on the link road pavements was getting affected because of rainy season and the restrictions on blasting for cutting of earth. These two factors are hampering the pending work on the project and cutting of around 40,000 cubic meter earth on Nashri end of the tunnel. The officers are however, hopeful of completing the work in a week’s time.
The executing agency was earlier hopeful of completing the Rs 2519 crores project by December 2015, almost five months ahead of its deadline, because of the more than satisfactory pace of work. However, a controversy over payments and claims between the Concessionaire IL&FS and main contractor Leighton led to slowing down of the work and later on, complete abandoning of job by Leighton in November 2014 after which the Main Developer, National Highway Authority of India, engaged multiple agencies for completion of the project with new deadline of July 2016.
Once completed, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel will become an all-weather alternative to the existing NH-1A section connecting Chenani in Udhampur district with Nashri in Ramban district. The project will also reduce the existing road distance between these two points from 41 kms to 10.89 kms.