Now a drive through the picturesque Jammu and Kashmir valley has become a much more exciting affair with the opening of the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel. The tunnel, which is 9.2 km, is India’s longest road tunnel built in the Shivalik mountain range in the Himalayas. Also known as the Patnitop Tunnel, the tunnel connects the Kashmir Valley with Jammu. It is Asia’s longest two-way highway tunnel.
The significance of the Tunnel
The tunnel, which is between the districts of Chenani and Nashri, was opened for vehicular traffic in April 2017. The bi-direction tunnel has reduced the distance between Jammu and Kashmir by almost 30 kilometers. The all-weather tunnel bypasses 44 avalanche and landslide-prone spots on the highway. The tunnel is part of the project for broadening of the National Highway No-44, which was the old NH1A from Jammu to Srinagar.
According to an estimate, the tunnel will save fuel of over Rs 27 lakh per day. It will provide easy connectivity for the people of Kishtwar, Bhardwah, and Doda in the Jammu region. Being an all-weather tunnel the problems of road blockage during heavy snowfall in the region has also been eliminated. The Patnitop tunnel has enabled an increase in trade and tourism in the state.
Construction of the Tunnel
The Chenani-Nashri Tunnel has been built in lower Himalayan range at the altitude of 1200 metres or 3937 feet. The foundation stone for the project was laid in June 2011, but because of the difficult terrain and technical problems, it took over 6 years to complete the project. There were landslides, heavy snowfall and even ‘demonetisation period in India’ delayed the project. The delay had caused a lot of uproar in the J&K Assembly. The construction, which is estimated to be at the cost of Rs 3.750 crore, involved nearly 1500 engineers, geologists, and numerous labourers.
Unique Features of the Tunnel
The tunnel is hailed as an engineering marvel. It marks many significant firsts in road building projects in India including user safety as an utmost priority.
The unique feature of the tunnel is that it has an Integrated Tunnel System, which is controlled by one particular software.
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel has Transverse Ventilation System, which means it has inlets and outlets for fresh air circulation. This ventilation system prevents suffocation and ensures acceptable visibility levels.
There are appropriate fire safety measures in place for any fire emergencies. There are SOS boxes installed with first aid box for any accidents.
A video surveillance system monitors the activities in the tunnel. A special camera has been installed to count the number of vehicles in the tunnel. It has a special drainage system to flush out water flowing in from the mountains.
Being an all-weather tunnel it has the capacity to have vehicular traffic despite heavy snowfall and rains.
The tunnel provides a mobile network of major telecom operators in India like Airtel, Idea, and BSNL. Also, there is a facility of 92.7 FM Radio Channel functioning inside the tunnel and can be used to communicate with vehicles in case of an emergency.
Travel to the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel
The road journey from Jammu to Srinagar is always a pleasant experience. The green meadows, mountains and the valley can be very enchanting and now with it, there is an opportunity to experience the engineering marvel of the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel. One can drive through the Jammu-Srinagar road and experience both nature’s bounty and a world-class modern structure. So go on a drive and pass through the longest road tunnel of India – the Patnitop Tunnel.