Even after missing two deadlines earlier, the commissioning of much awaited 9 Kilometer Chenani-Nashri tunnel has further been extended till October this year.
Sources said that due to delay in completion of crucial mechanical work inside the tunnel, the opening of the passageway has once again been extended.
Pertinently, the deadline for the 9 kilometer 4- lane tunnel, starting from 89 kilometers in Udhampur district to 130 Kilometers in Ramban district was initially set as May 2016, which was extended twice first up to June and then to July 16, which it failed to meet.
Recently, Union Minister of State- Dr Jitendra Singh during his visit to the site had said that the passageway would be completed in the month of September this year. However, Umran Beg, Managing Director, IFSL company – the executing agency told Greater Kashmir that the final work on the tunnel is in full swing. "If everything goes well- the tunnel will be dedicated to the people by the end of October this year," he said.
On missing of three deadlines, he said despite delay due to certain unfavorable circumstances, the execution work is approaching to the final stage. "The work inside the tunnel including lining and grating is nearing completion, while the construction of approach road is also going which will be completed soon. Once the work is completed in all respects – the passageway would be opened for the traffic" he claimed.
About wearing out of portion of the concrete used to fix the outer side hill slope on Chenani side entry, he said it was happening due to sinking of the portion of the hillock. "In this regard we have consulted National Highway Authority of India which has sought the services of experts to deal with this problem" he said and claimed that the IFSL has worked with full dedication and used best technology and quality material to complete the country's largest transport tunnel.
Meanwhile sources informed that after completing approach road to tunnel, installation of lighting and fire fighting equipments, the project would be put to extensive testing to check the quality of work and safety standards.
It is in place to mention here that the scheduled date of completion of this Rs 2519 crore project was May 2016 and the executing agency was hopeful of finishing the job by December 2015, around five months ahead of the deadline. However due to dispute between construction workers and executing agency the work was delayed. Later it was supposed to thrown open in June but the deadline was further extended till July 16.
Once completed, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel will act as an all-weather alternative to the existing NH-1A section connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban districts.
It will reduce the existing road distance between the two points from 41 kilometers to 10.89 kilometers bypassing Kud-Patnitop-Batote circuit.