Banihal-Qazigund tunnel open to traffic for trial
PM has vision of building quality infra in J&K: LG
JAMMU, Aug 4: A day ahead of second anniversary of abrogation of special status of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Road, Transport and National Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari today declared that 8.5 kilometers tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal has been completed and open to traffic for trial.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gadkari were likely to formally inaugurate the tunnel either at Qazigund or from New Delhi virtually in the presence of Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Singh.
Dr Jitendra Singh is in touch with Modi and Gadkari for finalizing the date for inauguration of the tunnel. However, sources said, the inauguration will be possible only after August 15 as Parliament is scheduled to adjourn on August 13 followed by the Independence Day celebrations.
During his meeting with Gadkari in New Delhi a day before, Manoj Sinha is also reported to have taken up the inauguration of Banihal-Qazigund tunnel.
Gadkari today announced that the 8.5 kilometers tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal, which will reduce travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by about 1.5 hours and 16 kilometers, has been opened to traffic for trial.
Built at 5800 feet above sea level, the tunnel will replace Jawahar tunnel and provide all weather connectivity.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, another milestone in infrastructure development of Jammu and Kashmir is fulfilled. The 8.5 kilometers tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal has been completed and open to traffic for trial,” Gadkari said in a tweet.
Terming it as ‘Pragati Ka Highway’, Gadkari said: “Built at 5800 feet above sea level, the tunnel will replace Jawahar tunnel and will reduce travel time and distance between Jammu and Srinagar”.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, referring to opening of Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, expressed thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his vision of building quality infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir for the coming generations,
Sinha said Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed unprecedented progress in road connectivity.
“I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his vision of building quality infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir for the coming generations. The Union Territory has recently witnessed a phase of unprecedented progress in road connectivity projects and others,” the Office of LG J&K said in a tweet.
Sinha also extended gratitude to Nitin Gadkari for his support and said the tunnel will give major boost to economic activity in the region.
In another tweet, Office of LG J&K said: “the completion of the new 8.5 kilometers tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal shall ensure all-weather connectivity between Jammu-Srinagar besides giving a major fillip to economic activity in the region. I am also thankful to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for his constant support”.
The tunnel will facilitate connectivity between Kashmir and Jammu and solve the problem of road closures due to snowfall and landslides during Monsoon and winters.
The tunnel, which was constructed on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), passes through the most difficult terrain on the National Highways. it is attached with an exhaust system to remove gas and bring in fresh air; has 124 jet fans, 234 Close Circuit Television modern cameras and a firefighting system installed inside.
Meanwhile, on fourth day of his visit to the Union capital, Sinha is reported to have met more representatives of the Central Government. He will return to Srinagar tomorrow morning when Jammu and Kashmir will observe second anniversary of abrogation of special status and conversion of the State into Union Territory.
During his stay in New Delhi, Sinha among others met Home Minister Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh.