Shri Nitin Gandkari expressed happiness at Indias longest highways tunnel being dedicated to the nation. This escape tunnel is created to be used during emergency situation.
In addition to saving almost two hours from the over 10-hour travel time on the highway, the passage of traffic through the tunnel will result in a daily saving of Rs 27 lakh in terms of fuel used by vehicles. The maximum height permitted in the tunnel is 5 meters and for checking the height, special sensors have been installed just before the toll points at both ends. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti thanked the Prime Minister and the Central Government for the support extended to the state.
The Indian government has built the tunnel at a cost of US$ 559 million. The delay has incurred additional cost of Rs 1200 cr. The third challenge was to maintain the ventilation system for the workers inside as they should get enough oxygen.
There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with "Cross Passages" connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres. BSNL, Airtel and Idea have set up facilities inside the tunnel to carry signals.
To have an elaborate tour, Modi boarded vehicle along with Vohra and Mehbooba.
He said work of prestigious ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar would start in next three months.
Construction work for the tunnel was executed by the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and was completed in over five years. It is also an all-weather tunnel.
"Very few tunnels in the world are having fully integrated tunnel control system". The project is also environment friendly.
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According to him, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel will help in fuel savings worth Rs 27 lakh every day.
Gadkari further said that it is for the first time that a Prime Minister was devoting India's longest 9-km tunnel to Jammu and Kashmir and the people of India. The highway is blocked sometimes for hours and even days due to heavy snow, monsoon rains and landslides. She had to halt her speech a few times because of chants of "Modi, Modi". She thanked Prime Minister for helping her and standing with the people of the State during a year ago turmoil and sought assistance in implementing Agenda of Alliance.
There was also no mention of Pakistan or dialogue with Hurriyat in her speech.
He said that by developing J&K, those living in PoK will be able to see the meaning of development. "I know the Sufi culture of Jammu and Kashmir well", he said.
She recalled the decision of her late father Mufti Sayeed to join hands with Modi, saying he was confident that the future of the tie-up would be good for the state.
Mehbooba thanked Modi for keeping Rajnath Singh by her side in hard times.
"Last year was like crossing a river of fire".
The 10.89 km tunnel, constructed with an investment of Rs 2,519 crore, forms part of the proposed widening of National Highway 44 (old NH-1A) from Jammu to Srinagar. From the Udhampur airfield, the prime minister flew in an army helicopter to Chenani where he inaugurated the tunnel. "Had you chosen tourism, the benefits today would have been phenomenal", said Mr. Modi after the inauguration.