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NHAI in race to get crucial J&K tunnel ready ahead of avalanches

Heavy snowfall often leads to closure of the Jawahar tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD;NISSAR AHMAD -

Excavation work inside the 8.5-km Banihal-Qazigund tunnel along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was completed on Sunday with its twin tubes likely to be operational by next year, a senior official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said.

“The double-tube excavation work inside the Banihal-Qazigund four-lane tunnel has been completed after seven years,” NHAI project director Ghulam Qadir told PTI.

The existing Jawahar tunnel, under the Banihal pass, is at an elevation of 2,194 metres making it prone to avalanches, which have led to closure and bottlenecks on the 265-km all-weather highway linking Kashmir to the rest of the country.

The new Banihal-Qazigund tunnel’s elevation is 1,790 metres, 400 metres below the Jawahar tunnel. This makes it less prone to avalanches, NHAI officials said.

Work on the ₹2,100-crore project started in June 2011 and on completion, the tunnel would reduce the distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km. “The project is likely to be completed by next year,” Mr. Qadir said.

State-of-the-art systems

The tunnel has two parallel tubes, one for each direction. Each tube will be seven metres (23 ft) wide with two lanes. One of the tubes was completed in February this year. The tubes are interconnected by passages at every 500 metres for maintenance and emergency evacuation.

The tunnel will have forced ventilation for extracting smoke and stale air and for infusing fresh air. It will have state-of-the-art monitoring and control systems for security.

It is expected that commuters using the tunnel will have to pay a toll.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 4:40:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nhai-in-race-to-get-crucial-jk-tunnel-ready-ahead-of-avalanches/article23944065.ece

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