Ramban/Banihal, Oct 29: Jawahar tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will be upgraded with “state-of-the-art ventilation, fire-fighting and intelligent traffic control systems” within one year.
This was stated by the Chief Engineer project BEACON Brigadier IK Jaggi, who reviewed the ongoing renovation and modernisation work of 2.85 km Jawahar tunnel on Friday.
He said that around Rs 80 Cr was being spent on modernization of two tubes (each 2.50 kilometres) of Jawahar tunnel and it would be developed as a tourist destination.
Talking to reporters at the tunnel, also referred to as the “Gateway of Kashmir”, Brigadier Jaggi said that after the opening of newly constructed Banihal- Qazigund tunnel for vehicular traffic, there was a need to modernize and improve safety features of the existing Jawahar tunnel.
“For this purpose, renovation work was sanctioned for its improvement. The work was entrusted to a private company BCC. There is no issue vis-a-vis the stability of Jawahar tunnel however there is dire need for its modernization and also to improve its safety features,” he said.
Brigadier Jaggi said, “Jawahar tunnel, which is important from the security point of view, is being upgraded to a modern tunnel and it will now emerge as a tourist destination. The modernisation project will cost around Rs. 75-80 Cr. The water leakage inside the tunnel is an important issue. It will also be repaired during the restoration works.
Chief Engineer BEACON added that the old highway across the tunnel would continue to serve as a major alternate and during traffic jam in the four-lane tunnel in Banihal. He said fuel tankers and explosive laden vehicles were running smoothly via Jawahar tunnel.
He said, “I’ve come with the experts from BEACON to adopt a strategy so as to ensure the execution of the ongoing works inside one tube during winter and snowfall period.”
Last time the tunnel was renovated was in 1997. The tunnel was constructed in 1955-60 by a German company and was the only road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world till few months back when Banihal-Qazigund four-lane tunnel was thrown open for traffic.
Jaggi was accompanied by BCC Managing Director Imran Beig and BEACON experts and officers.
Managing Director of Beig Construction Company (BCC) said, “We have been given a task to complete the renovation and modernisation of Jawahar Tunnel within one year.”
“The company has been assigned to improve electromagnetic design, lining pavements, road surface work and its safety features like unmanned-monitoring, state-of-the- art fire fighting system, ventilation system including lighting, intelligent traffic control system and various other allied works,” BCC Managing Director Imran Beig stated.
He said that the deadline for completion of the Jawahar tunnel project was one year and the company would complete it within the stipulated time. He said that BCC had also given priority to local unemployed and talented youth in projects like Banihal railway tunnel and Kishtwar tunnel project. “70 workers are working in the team at Jawahar tunnel, out of which 50 are from Banihal area,” he said.
The company BCC had carried out work under the supervision of 35 BRTF.