Doda, Mar 4: In a historic breakthrough, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) successfully completed the excavation of the first tube of the Khellani Tunnel in Doda district.
The work on the tunnel which is crucial for the Sudhmahadev- Goha–Khalleni – Chhatroo–Khanbal project is believed to enable all weather connectivity and it will make smooth the journey and shorten the distance to Doda and Kishtwar districts by 30kms. The work started on 25 March.
The estimated cost of 1.574 km Khellani tunnel project is Rs 431.28 crore and is expected to be completed in two years.
By completing the excavation within stipulated time, it is expected that the work on the ambitious road project will go on fast track. Besides the excavated one, there are going to be four more tunnels which are coming up in due course of time.
Harjeet Singh, senior site engineer NHIDCL said, "the breakthrough was made on 24th Feb and because of the loose strata, we are in process of stabilizing it and within another 10 days the work will be completed and in next 7 to 8 months, this tunnel will be made motor-able."
"The work on the second tube is also going on at brisk pace and if everything goes as planned, we will be able to make through that as well by April end," Harjeet added.
Management staff of APCO Infra- Tech Pvt. Ltd. which is the contractor of Khellani tunnel project are also positive “to complete the construction of tunnel in time after the breakthrough of the one of the tubes of the tunnel. ”
"We started the work on this tunnel in March 2021 and we have completed above 85 percent of the work and have already successfully made the breakthrough of 1st tube and there are maximum chances that we will complete the work within time," said Vinay Kumar Singh, AGM Khellani Tunnel Project.
The road has been planned to reduce the travelling time for the inhabitants of Doda and Kishtwar Districts both to Srinagar and Jammu and it is also expected to boost the economy of the area.
"We are grateful to DrJatinder Singh for his vision, who ensured that the project be taken up on fast track and by making the historic breakthrough within stipulated period of time, we are sure that soon we will be plying our vehicles on the safe and shortened road," said Sanjay Saraf, a resident of Bhaderwah.
"This road can surely change the fortunes of the people of Doda and Kishtwar Districts as the tourism industry is emerging as main stay of the economy of the region. This industry will surely get the major boost because visitors no longer will be compelled to ply on dangerous and treacherous road, instead they can enjoy the shorter and safer journey," Saraf added.
"This alternate highway, the proposal for which was mooted long time back, is imperative because of the fact that existing stretch of National Highway 244 from Batote to PulDoda has already been declared as unsafe due to the reservoir of Baglihar Hydroelectric Project,” sources informed, adding “putting this road to further use is not advisable as it may lead to irreparable loss to public and property”.
It is pertinent to mention here that during 2008 around half a kilometer patch of now NH 244 and then NH1B was washed off and during rainy season every year major portion of Batote-PulDoda Highway gets damaged due to landslides being caused by the weak strata of mountains.