No light at the end of Banihal Qazigund 4-lane tunnel

After missing several deadlines, there is still no light at the end of Banihal-Qazigund 4-lane tunnel, though the company carrying out the work hopes the project will be completed by 2019.

Presently the digging work is continuing on the tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar highway. Hyderabad-based company Navayuga said it is making every effort to ensure the tunnel is made ready for traffic by 2019.

Being constructed with the help of the Austrian Tunneling Method (ATM), the work on 8.5 km tunnel between Banihal and Qazigund was started in 2011. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) handed over the work of the tunnel to Navayuga Engineering Limited.

While several deadlines for its completion have lapsed, Navayuga officials are hopeful to make the tunnel functional by 2019. 

However, according to sources, completion of the tunnel will still require almost two years. “Presence of mighty hills and gushing water inside the tunnel have brought down the speed of work during last one year. 

“In the past, agitations by local farmers and the labourers working on the tunnel to press for their demands put brakes on the work,” an official said. However, work on the tunnel has picked up during last two years. 

According to officials, Rs 2100 crore has been earmarked for construction of the tunnel along with a toll plaza and a truck terminal as well.

Assistant Project Manager, Navayuga Engineering Company, VMV Ramanachary told Greater Kashmir that the work on the tunnel is going on in full swing. “The digging will be completed by end of this month,” Ramanachary said, adding that the tunnel with two tubes “has almost 70 meters digging pending.”

“Presence of fragile rocks in the tunnel has slowed down pace of work.  First, 200 meters were dug every month but this slowed down and now 50 meters are dug every month. This is because muck and rocks sliding down in the tunnel prove to be a threat to the safety of engineers and workers who continue to work despite the odds. 

“We are working very cautiously even as workers are on the job round the clock,” Ramanachary said.  

“Completion of the all weather tunnel will reduce 16 km distance between Banihal and Qazigund,” officials said.