T5 tunnel at Panthyal opens for traffic

The Jammu-Srinagar highway is the lifeline of Kashmir as well as Ladakh. The deforestation of mountains exacerbated the situation. New landslides appeared mainly from Udhampur to the Jawahar Tunnel section. This resulted in highway closures for days together and was not at all good from a defence point of view, either. The four-laning of NH-44 was conceived, and the work started in 2011. By 2015, the Jammu to Udhampur section got operational, but the Udhampur to Jawahar Tunnel section, the major landslide section, is still incomplete. Various deadlines had been set, but twelve years and counting is the reality. Delays in land acquisition, tunnel boring mishaps, and aggravation of existing landslides have hampered the work. Some measures, like a temporary steel and iron tunnel to protect vehicles from being shot at Panthyal, have also been undertaken, but nature’s fury has also grown with time. Because of the situation, the opening of the T5 tunnel at Panthyal is a welcome relief. Work on other tunnels, flyovers, and bridges is underway and expected to be completed by next year. Travel time will be reduced by half when the project is completed. But the public has suffered for too long, and one hopes the new deadlines are adhered to this time.