Jammu & Kashmir: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation India’s longest road tunnel, on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. It will reduce the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by nearly 30 km.

“The Prime Minister will inaugurate the Chenani-Nashri tunnel on April 2,” Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Jitendra Singh, told PTI. Modi will also address a public rally after the dedication, he said. Work on the 9.2-km twin-tube tunnel, part of a 286-km and four-lane project on the highway, started on May 23, 2011, in the lower Himalayan mountain range, and cost INR 3,720 crore, officials said.

At an elevation of 1,200 metres, it will be the first in India to be equipped with a world-class “integrated tunnel control system,” through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems will be automatically actuated. It will reduce the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two and a half hours. The distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of the existing 41 km, Singh said. Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) is to hand over the tunnel project to National Highways Authority of India after its inauguration.

“The formal trial run was successfully completed for peak and offpeak hours between March 9 and March 15,” said J S Rathore, project director at IL&FS. Once the tunnel becomes operational, it will reduce traffic snarls on National Highway-1A due to snowfall and avalanches in winter at Patnitop, he said.

Ministry also claimed that there are very few tunnels in the world which is fully integrated with safety features for detection of accidents and fire with a parallel 9-km long escape road.

Rathore said IL&FS has set up a well-equipped fully-computerised operation room for surveillance of vehicles inside the twin tubes.

Hence, this tunnel is 10.9 km long, will cut Jammu-Kashmir distance by 30km, will save 30 lakh of petrol per day, with transverse ventilation system by ABB Drives and will be equipped with accident mitigation & actuation software by ABB.

With inputs from PTI and other agencies