Srinagar, May 20: The incident of tunnel collapse in Ramban area along Srinagar-Jammu National Highway have raised concerns over safety measures in the under construction tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the authorities and the tunnel construction agencies involved in these tunnel works have claimed that all the safety measures are well in place to avoid any such incidents. Being constructed on Srinagar-Leh Highway , the 14 kilometres long strategically important Zojila Tunnel is under construction and the work is going on at a very good pace. The project site of Zojila tunnel is located at existing highway (NH-01) starting from Sonamarg (UT of J&K) and ending at Minamarg (UT of Ladakh) at an elevation ranging from 2700m to 3300m, thus making the Zojila Tunnel (13.2 km) the longest tunnel at this elevation in Asia region. The present site location falls into seismic zone IV and all precautionary measures have been provisioned to safeguard the structures provisioned in the project, officials said.
Another 6.5 km long Z Morh tunnel is coming up near Sonamarg area in Ganderbal district which is almost completed.
General Manager National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) VK Pant told Greater Kashmir that all the safety standard measures are already in place for the Z Morh and Zojila Tunnel, adding that these are put in place in advance after keeping all the aspects under consideration. "The actual cause of the tunnel collapse in Ramban area is yet to be ascertained, adding that a team of authority engineers from ICT have been sent to Ramban to verify and know the actual cause of the Tunnel collapse and if there are any further measures need to be taken those will be ensured for the under construction tunnels " Pant said.
He said that the 6.5 kilometres long Z-Morh Tunnel is almost complete now and there are no chances of any such incidents.
Burhan Andrabi, Senior Manager with Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL), the construction company responsible for construction of Zojila Tunnel, said that the due and required procedures are steps that have been taken to carry out the construction work, which minimises chances for any such mishaps.
“Before starting the face excavation work, a rock strengthening test is to be made sure that gives a sense of how to move forward, adding that certain parameters are being ensured which can avoid any damage in the tunnel construction work" Burhan told Greater Kashmir. He said that the portal stabilisation work is done before breaking the rocks during excavation work.
Anil Dixit, Executive Director of NHIDCL, which is a fully owned company of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India entrusted to look after all the tunnel construction work, said that few days ahead a meeting was called to review the progress and other safety measures with regard to the under construction tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that this ( part of tunnel collapse) unfortunate incident has taken place and "we are ensuring that all the measures are reviewed and in place to avoid any such incidents in future,". He said that as of now only two tunnel projects are underway in Kashmir, besides some others towards the Jammu side.