‘Joshi Lays Foundation Of 8.45 KM New Qazigund-Banihal Tunnel’

Publish Date: Jul 26 2011 12:00PM

Anantnag (Islamabad), July 25: Unveiling Rs 10,000 crore road projects for Jammu and Kashmir that include two strategic tunnels - Qazigund-Banihal and Chenani-Nashri – to provide all weather connectivity to the state with the rest of the country, the Centre Tuesday said it is committed to rapid growth of the region.
“UPA government is committed to the rapid development of Jammu and Kashmir. Government has taken up road and rail projects worth Rs 30,000 crore. This will be a boost to the state’s economy as it will promote trade and tourism here,” Road Transport and Highways Minister C P Joshi said while laying foundation stone of 8.45 km tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal.
The Banihal tunnel, part of Rs 1,987 crore Qazigund-Banihal project on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is one of the largest road tunnels in India and the first of its kind to be taken up on public-private-partnership mode.
The tunnel on completion will make the highway, which remains closed for over 40 days in a year due to snow-fall, an all-weather one.
It will also reduce the distance between Banihal and Srinagar by 16 km besides giving a boost to the trade in the region.
The tunnel will also have an emergency lane and a provision for emergency cross passages besides proper ventilation. Apart from the 8.45 km tunnel, a 0.69 km tunnel will also be built there.
 “This proposed improvement of Jammu to Srinagar National Highway at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore will benefit large number of road users and will save travel time and fuel,” Joshi said urging developers and stakeholders to complete it ahead of the scheduled five year’s span.
It needs no emphasis that better infrastructure is pre-requisite to the economic growth, Joshi said while addressing the function.
The function was also attended by Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, among others.
Joshi said his Ministry has undertaken widening of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway under National Highway Development Project phase–II.
Four of the mega projects – Jammu-Udhampur, Chenani-Nashri, Qazigund-Banihal and Srinagar-Banihal have been awarded on build operate transfer (BOT) basis.
Two more projects – Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal would be awarded shortly, Joshi said.
“After completion of the project, the distance from Jammu to Srinagar will be shortened by 50 km. The present travelling time of 8-10 hours will be reduced to 4-5 hours”, Joshi said.
The total length of National Highway from Lakhanpur to Srinagar is 400 kms. Of this, work is nearing completion for 114 km stretch from Lakhanpur to Jammu and 17 kms Srinagar bypass at a cost of Rs 952 crores. The 4-laining from Srinagar to Jammu is being taken in hand in six packages involving the cost of over Rs 9700 crores. The project is being executed by National Highway Authority of India.
Joshi said that the centre is determined to develop the tourism sector in the state and announced that Kapran-Verinag road Verinag-Pahalgam road will be given a National Highway status.
He said that the UPA Government under the leadership of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh is committed to the faster development of Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the 4-lane National Highway project of which the tunnels at Qazigund and Chenani form an important part would help the development and economic growth of the State in a big way.
The Union Minister assured the State Government that Centre would extend its full support to it for creating a dependable road-network in the State. “You have sacrificed for the cause of the country”, he said adding that it was the responsibility of the Union Government to extent every possible help to the State for its all round development.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and NC Patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah stressed on close relations between the coalition partners from top to bottom to help faster growth and development of the State. He said certain elements do not like the coalition getting stronger day by day and delivering on every front.
“They want to create wedge between NC and Congress for personal gains”, he said adding that they have exposed themselves time and again by their deeds and actions as such there is no one to buy their divisive political tactics.
Highlighting the importance of 4-lane National Highway for the State, Dr Farooq Abdullah also emphasised on construction of tunnels at various places including one at Kapran.
People of Kashmir have rendered tremendous sacrifices in keeping the country united and this has now borne fruit as the tunnel and liberal funding in the execution of the developmental projects was a reward from New Delhi,” said Farooq.

Addressing the gathering, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad listed the schemes launched by the Union Government for overall development and welfare of Jammu and Kashmir.
Azad said that works involving Rs 30000 crores are under execution in the State under National Highway and Railway Projects. “These will necessarily give considerable fillip to the State’s economy and development”, he said underlining the importance of 4-lane National Highway project from Lakhanpur to Srinagar in the economy and growth of the State.
The Union Health Minister said that the Health Ministry has launched an ambitious programme of enhancing primary health service facilities in the country to cover all areas under this programme. He said an amount of Rs 17,000 crores have been earmarked under this programme and Jammu and Kashmir will receive due share and benefits of it.
Azad said that UPA Government under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh is keen to see Jammu and Kashmir developing fast and growing with the rest of the country on all fronts.

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