Umaisar Gull Ganie
Srinagar, Nov 15: Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world, is fast emerging secure highway as the 300-km stretch has been reduced to just 260 kms. Courtesy: newly constructed tunnels.
People travelling on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway said that new tunnels on the route have made travel faster and easier and demand early competition of four-lanning on national highway.
Chenani-Nashri Tunnel, the India’s longest highway tunnel (9 km long) and Asia’s longest bi-directional highway tunnel has reduced the travel time between Nashri and Chenani from two hours to mere 15 minutes. Similarly, the 8.5 km long Navyug Tunnel has reduced the travel time between Qazigund and Banihal to 15 minutes from nearly two hours.
Nandni Tunnels, the series of four highway tunnels on Jammu-Srinagar highway in Udhampur district have cut down the travel time by at least one hour. The distance between Jammu and Srinagar cities has been reduced from 300 kms to 260 kms and the journey which used to get covered in 10 to 12 hours till 2019, is covered within 5 to 6 hours now.
Mohammad Ashraf (45), who was waiting for a Travera vehicle at Qazigund market to travel to Jammu, said: “I have been going to Jammu since last seven years as my health remain good there given harsh winters in Kashmir. There were times when we reached our destination after days but due the opening of new tunnels like Chenani-Nashri Tunnel and Qazigund- Banihal tunnel, the travel times has been reduced to very much.”
About the current problem on highway, he said the issue on the route these days is only traffic snarls as there is a single patch from Banihal-Nashri stretch. “The government should complete the work on the widening of Srinagar-Jammu national highway as soon as possible which will not avoid accidents on highway but also become safe for travellers”, he said.
Project Director and Regional Officer National Highway Authority of India Purshottam Kumar said that there are different packages in the national highway and every package has different deadlines. “The work on the last portion was started in August this year and it is to be completed in three years, so the whole national highway four-lanning will be completed by August 2025,” he said..
Officials said that with the four-lanning, travel time would be reduced by half as the distance would be reduced by 50 kms bypassing a number of treacherous points. “The work on the Banihal-Nashri stretch, the most problematic, is underway. The stretch often witnesses landslides with rains leading to closure of the highway”, they said.
Superintendent of Police, Ramban, Mohita Sharma who is also Incharge SSP Traffic NH said that this winter they will do better for traffic management on highway. “Every year there is improvement in the condition of highway and it also depends on NHAI how they will improve the highway”, she said.