Banihal-Qazigund tunnel trials: The double-tube four-lane Banihal-Qazigund tunnel constructed alongside the national highway of Jammu and Kashmir is now ready and will soon be operational. The project officials have conducted a maiden 24-hour trial run of vehicular traffic via the tunnel which turned out to be successful. A report by PTI noted that the full-fledged trial run was conducted for a whole day and ended on Friday at 10 am.
Prior to the trial, the officials were only allowing a limited vehicular traffic to pass through the newly constructed tunnel. This was done on a regular interval as a basic trial for over 15 days ahead of its commissioning, the report said citing Muneeb Tak, Chief Manager of Navayuga Engineering Company.
It is to note that Banihal-Qazigund tunnel is 8.5 km long and was built at a cost of Rs 2,100 crore in over a decade. Now, the tunnel work has been completed and several tests will be run along with commissioning processes. It is likely that the tunnel will be operational in July. The tunnel plays an important role as it will cross Jawahar Tunnel and Shaitan Nalla- areas prone to be impacted with heavy snowfall and slippery conditions during winters. Also, the tunnel has positioned itself as a strategically-important road that will allow linking of Kashmir to other parts of the country.
According to Tak, the trial run was a success and all kinds of traffic was allowed to pass through the tunnel barring fuel-laden tankers. On June 16, the officials conducted the first trial run of the traffic from both sides for two hours. Since then, they have been letting the traffic pass on regular intervals. The officials further said that the trial run was completed with no disruptions and the movement of traffic remained smooth from both sides.
To put in perspective, the work was initiated in June 2011 by Navyug engineering company with an aim to reduce the road distance between Banihal (Jammu province) and Qazigund (Kashmir) by 16 km. The tunnel has been made on the Build Operate and Transfer base system along with an exhaust system that will ensure removal of gas and pump in fresh air. Apart from this, the tunnel boasts of 234 CCTV modern cameras, 126 Jet fans, along with a firefighting system that has been installed in both tubes of the tunnel.
After every 500 meters inside the tunnel, a corridor has been built between two tubes that will allow emergency exit to either tube. The tunnel has been made at an average elevation of 1,790 m. Since this is 400 m lower than the Jawahar tunnel’s elevation, it will be less prone to avalanches.