The Chenani-Nashri tunnel, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, is the country’s longest road tunnel and will reduce travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by almost two hours.
Speaking at its inauguration, PM Modi described the tunnel as a project that could change the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir. The Quint takes a look at the timeline of events that led to the landmark project becoming a reality.
Conceived During Manmohan Singh’s Tenure
The project is believed to have been conceived around 2009, during Manmohan Singh’s tenure as Prime Minister.
A key factor behind the idea taking shape was the Congress being in power in the state as well, as a coalition partner first with the People’s Democratic Party till 2005, and later forging an alliance with the National Conference.
Bidding Process Started in 2009
The bidding process for the tunnel project started in early 2009, and went on for over a year, before Leighton India was finally awarded the project in 2010.
However, at the time, the tunnel was not planned to incorporate many important features such as the integrated tunnel system, under which all the systems – such as the entrance detection control system, the electrical fire signalling system, the video surveillance system and the evacuation broadcast system – are controlled through a single software.
Work Commenced in 2011
After completion of the bidding process, work on the Chenani-Nashri project was scheduled to begin in December 2010. However, the date for commencement was pushed back, and construction could only start on 23 May 2011.
Minor Delays Hit Project
A deadline of July 2015 was set for the completion of the 9.28-km, two-lane Chenani-Nashri tunnel. However, the project faced minor delays and the deadline was pushed back to May 2016, before the tunnel was finally completed in December 2016.
Delays Led to Inflation of Project Cost
A part of the 286-km-long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the tunnel was completed in a record time of five and a half years and at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore – Rs 1,200 crore more than the initial allocated budget.
Chenani-Nashri To Decide J&K’s Destiny: PM Modi
Inaugurating the tunnel, PM Modi emphasised the Centre's commitment towards boosting tourism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and added that the project would change the destiny of the state.
During his speech at Udhampur, the PM asserted that the Chenani-Nashri tunnel –India's longest – with its state-of the-art technology is a symbol of India’s commitment to bring development to insurgency-hit Jammu & Kashmir.