India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's longest road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, making it operational for traffic. Security has been tightened across the state.
Speaking ahead of the inauguration, Jitendra Singh, who is the Union Minister of State in the PM's Office said, "It is a matter of great pride for the people of Jammu and Kashmir that this great tunnel is being dedicated to the nation by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi - the most popular PM. It is dedicated to the nation in keeping with his call for a new India." Prime Minister Modi will also address a public rally at Battal Ballian in Udhampur district after inaugurating the tunnel. The tunnel will save fuel worth nearly Rs. 99 crores a year. "Rs. 27 lakh worth of fuel is likely to be saved per day," Mr Singh said.
The tunnel will also reduce the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two hours. The distance between Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 kms (between two ends of the tunnel), instead of the existing 41 kms. Mr Singh called the tunnel is a game changer. "It is a revolution itself. It is a revolution to be watched and studied. It is a case study, and a wonderful creation," he added.
He also said that the tunnel "is an alternative all weather route. It is an alternative to the highway which often closes at the time of snow and rains. It will boost trade and increase revenue in the state. It will also help boost tourism."
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is India's first and the world's sixth tunnel to have transverse ventilation system, providing fresh air to passengers. "The ventilation system is enabled by ABB drives and controlled by ABB software," an official of the the company said. ABB is the global leader in industrial technology and operates in approximately 100 countries, including India, according to its official website.
Ventilation systems for such long tunnels are essential to maintain clean air, permissible carbon dioxide levels and expel harmful vehicle emissions.
The tunnel, constructed at a cost of Rs. 2,519 crore, will ensure a safe and swift passage for commuters, even in adverse weather conditions. The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is among the longest highway tunnels in Asia. The tunnel, at an altitude of 1,200 meters, is a part of National Highway Authority of India's (NHAI's) project between Jammu and Srinagar, along the National Highway 44.
Technologically, this is one of the most advanced road tunnels built in the country, surmounting challenges of terrain and distance, Managing Director, ABB India, Sanjeev Sharma said.BJP is expecting a huge turnout of people from various parts of the state for PM Modi's rally. Security drills were carried out by police and other security wings yesterday. Three helipads have been sanitised and checked by security teams headed by the Special Protection Group, or SPG.