Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the country's longest highway tunnel - Chenani-Nashri
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today opened India's longest road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which cuts short the journey between the two cities by 30 km and reduces travel time by two hours. Built at an altitude of 1,200 meters, at a cost of Rs 3,700 crore, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel will ensure a safe and swift passage for commuters, even in adverse weather conditions. The tunnel is among the longest highway tunnels in Asia. The Prime Minister, who arrived in Udhampur, the headquarters of the army's Northern Command, by a special plane for the inauguration, took an army helicopter to Chenani.
The tunnel will save fuel worth nearly Rs 99 crore a year. "Rs 27 lakh worth of fuel is likely to be saved per day," said Jitendra Singh, who is the Union Minister of State in the PM's Office.
The distance between Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km (between two ends of the tunnel), instead of the existing 41 km.
The tunnel, Mr Singh said, "is an alternative all weather route. It is an alternative to the highway which often closes at the time of snow and rains. It will boost trade and increase revenue in the state. It will also help boost tourism".
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is India's first and the world's sixth tunnel to have transverse ventilation system, providing fresh air to passengers. Ventilation systems for such long tunnels are essential to maintain clean air, permissible carbon dioxide levels and expel harmful vehicle emissions.
The tunnel, which took seven years to build, will be part of the National Highway Authority of India's project between Jammu and Srinagar, along the National Highway 44.
After the inauguration, PM Modi, along with Governor NN Vohra and Chief Mehbooba Mufti, travelled in an open jeep through the tunnel for some distance.
Light motor vehicles will have to pay Rs 55 for a one way trip and Rs 85 for a two-way journey.
After inaugurating the tunnel, PM Modi will address a BJP rally in Battal Balian area of Udhampur district. The BJP is expecting a huge turnout for the Prime Minister's rally. Security drills were carried out by police and other security wings yesterday.
The Prime Minister's visit to the state comes amid a strike called by the separatists.
Before the Chenani-Nashri tunnel, the best-known road tunnel in the state was the Jawahar tunnel or Banihal tunnel, which was built in the 1950s.