PM Modi to inaugurate Chennai-Nashri tunnel after March 15: PMO

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Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate 9.2 Kilometre long Chenani-Nashri road tunnel anytime after March 15.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) said that dates for the inauguration will be finalized once the Prime Minister Narendra Modi finishes campaigning for assembly elections in various states of mainland India.  Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already communicated to the Prime Minister’s office about “National Highway Authority of India” (NHAI) having completed the construction of 9 Kilometre long Chenani-Nashri tunnel, added the sources.

They stressed that safety audit is in the final stages and the moment a confirmation is received from the PMO about the availability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, grand preparations would be made for the same. According to the NHAI, 9 kilometre long Chennai-Nashri tunnel has been completed 10 months later after the scheduled date of completion. After the construction was started in May 23, 2011, the tunnel was to be completed in May 20, 2016. The agreement between NHAI and Chenani-Nashri Tunnel-way Limited was signed on July 28, 2010.

Delay of 9 months has resulted in cost escalation because of which the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel which was initially to be completed with Rs. 2519 crores has now been completed with Rs. 3720 cores. The 9 kilometre long Chennai-Nashri tunnel had been originally assigned to IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited which was formed in the year 2000 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS); a Mumbai based Indian infrastructure development and finance company.

The developer created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in the name of Chenani-Nashri Tunnel Limited (CNTL) for this Project. The developer demobilized Leighton and Project highway and tunnel activities is divided into three sections and contractor deployed the separate construction for different sections. Excavation works from North Portal were allotted to Joint Venture of AIMPL-Beigh Construction Company (BCC) (JV), excavation works from South Portal were carried out by Nagyan Construction, Lining works south portal were carried out by New India Infra Build tech Pvt. Ltd while lining works of North Portal were done by Savronik- BCC (JV).

The surface works were assigned to three contractors namely Vinay Construction, Choudhary Construction and Kamlashi Construction. The main Chennai Nashri Tunnel has an escape tunnel of 9 kilometers. There are 29 cross passages, 2 rotary junctions, 2 minor bridges, 7 culverts, 3 drainage pipes each of 9 kilometer length in the main tunnel, 2 drainage pipes each of 9 kilometer length in the escape tunnel, two 9 kilometer drainage pipes in escape tunnel and 29 drainage pipes in Cross passages and 14 lay bays. There are 59 firefighting niches and 118 emergency call niches.

There are two tunnel control centers while the toll plazas would be on both sides of the tunnel. This 9.2-km-long tunnel will connect the Chenani (south end) area of Udhampur district with the Nashri (north end) area in Ramban district and will reduce the length of Jammu-Srinagar national highway by around 31 km.

The tunnel will bypass the hilly terrain of Patnitop and will make the movement of people easy. The Jammu-Srinagar national highway is a lifeline for Kashmir valley, Ladakh and several districts of the Jammu region on which more than 15,000 vehicles ply on daily basis. Convoys of security forces also move on this highway and at the time of rain or snow traffic gets disturbed. The construction of this tunnel will allow all-weather road.

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