NHAI to build two tunnels to upgrade Jammu-Srinagar highway

12 April 2010

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will begin up gradation of the NH1A, the highway linking Jammu with Srinagar which includes construction of two road tunnels.

The project will include two road tunnels that will easily pip the 2.6 kilometers Jawahar Tunnel in the Pir Panjal range to being the longest in Asia. While it has been planned that a nine kilometers tunnel will be constructed on the Nashri-Chinani section, another 8.45 kilometers tunnel will be built on the Banihal-Qazikund section of the highway.

The nine kilometers (Nashri-Chinani) tunnel will help avoid removal of settlements at Patnitop (for further work on the road) and will reduce the elevation of the road that otherwise makes the climb difficult. The existing highway has a gradient of 4.5% and has many hairpin bends. This makes it unsafe for motorists at many points. The tunnel will come up at an elevation of 1200 meters and its gradient will be 0.5%. The Banihal-Qazikund tunnel, on the other hand, will provide relief from roadblocks due to slope failure, rock fall, and avalanche.

The proposed tunnels will not only make the highway all-weather but will also reduce the distance between Banihal and Srinagar by about 16 kilometers. It will save about INR270 million ($6 million) a year on operations for trucks alone. Besides, the tunnels will help reduce travel time by about two hours.

The upgradation works will be carried out in six sections: Qazigund-Banihal, Banihal-Ramban, Ramban-Nashri, Nashri-Chinani, Chinani-Udhampur and Udhampur-Jammu. More than 137 minor bridges, 58 major bridges, two flyovers, eight tunnels and 11 by-passes will be built as part of the upgrade work.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has begun opening the construction bids it has received from various companies. The work is likely to be awarded to a bidder by the end of April. The upgrade of the NH1A will require an investment of an estimated INR90000 million ($2023 million). The tunnels alone will cost an estimated INR20000 million ($450 million) each.