Banihal June 6: The construction work on the double-tube four-lane tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal along the Srinagar-Jammu highway is in the final stage with the trial run of traffic expected by the end of this month, officials told Greater Kashmir.
Officials said that the trial of the various facilities inside the tunnel including the ventilation set up and CCTVs installed inside the tunnel had already started and the tunnel is expected to be thrown open in coming weeks.
The construction work on the 8km tunnel cutting across the Pir Panjal mountain range was started in 2011 by the Andhra Pradesh based 'Navyug Engineering Company' after approval by the NHAI at an estimated cost of over Rs 2000 crore, officials told Greater Kashmir.
The tunnel will reduce the travel distance on the highway by 16 km.
Officials said most of the mechanical and electrical work has been completed while the toll plazas on both the terminals are also ready.
Besides, adequate firefighting and communication tools have also been set up, they added.
The NHAI has missed at least five deadlines to complete the project with the authority attributing the delay to the "tough geographic and climatic conditions besides other intrinsic factors".
Chief Manager at Navyug, Muneeb Ahmad Tak told Greater Kashmir that a round the clock construction work is currently underway on the project and they are trying their best to inaugurate the tunnel as soon as possible.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the project holds much importance from the perspective of the J&K government amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic and the UT administration "looks forward to it as a gift for the people of the UT to pacify the pandemic induced stress".
As per sources, the the outgoing as well as the present J&K Chief Secretary and other top rung officials have made many visits to the project in bid to expedite the work.
Sources in the NHAI said the authority's Committee of Engineering has approved the trial run of traffic inside the tunnel to be carried out by the construction company.
A specific date for the same had not been finalized yet, sources added.