New Delhi: India's longest road tunnel -- under the Pirpanjal range in Jammu and Kashmir -- will on Monday see its final blasting ceremony in the presence of union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, an official statement here said.
The ceremony will take place when engineers of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will blast a hole through the final section of the tunnel between Chenani and Nashri, near Patni Top.
"The road is likely to be opened to traffic in July next year. Work on the tunnel was started on May 23, 2011. The tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, is being completed at a cost of over Rs.2,500 crore," the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The 9.2-km tunnel, a part of the ambitious 286-km four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will not only reduce the distance between the two cities of Jammu and Srinagar by around 30 km, it will also provide an all-weather road between the two capitals of the northern Indian state, the statement said.
After the tunnel road is opened, travellers will no longer suffer traffic snarls on National Highway-1A following rock-falls, landslides and heavy snowfall, to which this road section is susceptible.
"The state-of-the-art tunnel is simultaneously being built from the two ends and the NHAI teams will meet at the centre by drilling a hole through the final section," it added.
The NHAI is also constructing a parallel escape tunnel along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in any eventuality.
"The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 'cross-passages' -- each after a gap of 300 metres -- and the escape tunnel will exclusively be used for pedestrians. There is a provision for ventilation keeping in view the length of the tunnel," it said.
The project will also have parking bays at specific distances to enable towing away or shifting of vehicles in case of vehicular breakdown.