Chenani Tunnel: As tunnelling for the 12-km-long Chenani-Nashri stretch of Jammu-Srinagar highway, was completed on Monday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be brought in to inaugurate the mega project.
"We will bring Prime Minister and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister for the inauguration of this project. We will have a big programme here.
"It is a big achievement in terms of India's target of developing world-class infrastructure," Transport Minister Gadkari told reporters here this evening as he connected the project for the tunnel, South-East Asia's longest, with Modi's "Make in India" mission.
"The biggest tunnel of South-East Asia is through today. It is for the first time that a tunnel has been protected with world-class security set-up.
"It has integrated tunnel control system (ITCS), which is the first installed in any tunnel so far," he added.
"It is the set-up of ventilation, fire control and signals apart?from electrical set-up, etc. The cost of this tunnel is Rs 3,800 crore so far," he said, adding that the tunnel would save fuel worth Rs 27 lakh per day.
The gradient has come down from 4.50 to zero point and it is "a straight road", Gadkari said.
"The entire project has shortened the distance by 91-km on?the highway and 41-km has been shortened due to this? tunnel.
"Not only will the distance decrease but it (the tunnel) will ensure increase?in the speed of the vehicles on the straight road as compared to hilly, serpentine road," he said.
Giving the example of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, he said it has five tunnels as technology was not so advanced but this tunnel is "world class".
It has 29 systems of lifting vehicles inside it, he said adding that radio frequency would be put for providing information to travellers.
"The inauguration day of the project has been set as May 22, 2016. They had said that it would be completed before May. What I have seen, the project can be completed next year by March first week," he said.
Connecting the tunnel project with Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, Gadkari said, "This was joint venture project... but the foreign?company left and it was our own company and people of the?company (IL&FS) which executed the tunnelling today.
"It is a matter of pride not?only for J-K but for all of India. They braved all difficulties and ensured the project work went as per schedule. Generally, projects get delayed, but this project is on time," he said.
"Second positive thing of the project is local workforce and blasting expert Farooq Ahmed. 95 per cent of youths here have got jobs," he added.
"They wil get trained here and work on other projects as well. It is?a win-win situation for Indian companies, engineers and technical workforce.
"It is a unique combination, what the prime minister has been saying, 'Make in India', that dream has been completed here today," he said.
"After this success, I do not feel we have any need to go for foreign collaboration for such tunnel projects in rest of the country as our people and companies are becoming vibrant. I compliment them al," he said.
On the issue of bad highway conditions in J&K, he said that was due to heavy rains and landslides.
"We have approved two road projects, worth Rs 4,500 crore. Approval has also come?with regard to some forest issues. The work on the highways is in progress, but the heavy rain has caused some problems too," he said.
"We have ordered for construction of cemented road areas and, in next two years, the highways would be would be problem-less (sic)," he said, adding that approval has been given for the Jammu and Srinagar bypasses, which will cost Rs 2,500 to 3,000 crore.
"We will reach out to the people of J-&K with all the support," he said.
Over Rs 25,000 crore worth infrastructure projects would take off as we have already given Rs 30,000 crore to Bengal and Rs 40,000 crore to Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Taking a dig at the previous government, Gadkari said that a lot of money has come to J&K in the past, but still no major infrastructure is seen in the state.