Several national highways and expressways have changed the road map of India by connecting the most remote places to metro cities. These projects have multiplied the road infrastructure, and have made commuting easier. Similarly, efforts are being made to increase the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway connecting the Union Territory with the rest of the country. In order to make commuting easier and better for the commuters, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is working tirelessly to improve the roads. Officials are monitoring the progress of work on the Srinagar-Jammu NH and soon commuters will be able to travel and reach their destination much faster.
The situation changed in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019 – when the Center announced its decision to abrogate the state’s special status and bifurcate it into two union territories. The government started a mission to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country through road, air and railways. As of now, around 100 flights operate daily from the Srinagar International Airport, the train to Kashmir is not that far and the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway will become a four-lane express highway within a year or two.
The Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Tunnel is not only India’s longest highway tunnel (9 km long), but also Asia’s longest bi-directional highway tunnel. It is also known as Chenani-Nashri tunnel. It has reduced the travel time between Nashri and Chenani from two hours to just 15 minutes.
Similarly, the 8.5 km long Navyug tunnel at an altitude of 1,790 meters in the Pir Panjal range has reduced the travel time between Qazigund and Banihal from about two hours to 15 minutes. The Nandani Tunnel, a series of four highway tunnels on the Jammu-Srinagar NH in Udhampur district, has cut travel time by at least an hour.
The distance between Jammu and Srinagar cities has been reduced from 300 km to 260 km and the journey which used to take 10 to 12 hours in 2019 is completed in 5 to 6 hours in 2022.
The four-lane highway corridors from Srinagar to Qazigund and from Jammu to Udhampur have made travel on NH-44 faster and easier. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta is personally monitoring the progress of work on Srinagar-Jammu NH.
In a review meeting held earlier in October, Mehta directed the NHAI to clear mud on NH-44, improve road surface, complete the crucial T-5 tunnel and widen the Ramsu-Rampari-Sherbibi section. Follow all the deadlines. ,
He said, “Once the T-5 tunnel is completed, it will reduce the travel time between Banihal to Ramban from three hours to 25 minutes. The T-5 tunnel will bring Jammu and Srinagar closer.
The improvement in the condition of Jammu-Srinagar NH has paralyzed all the narratives of this highway being an unnatural route. The new tunnels and the extension of the highway are major steps towards “complete the integration of Kashmir with the Union of India”. With the conversion of NH-44 into an express highway, the myth of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road being a natural route to Kashmir has been shattered.
The government has also started work on the Mughal road connecting South Kashmir with the Jammu region. This road will also be developed as an all-weather highway, thereby ending Kashmir’s zamindar valley status.
(with inputs from IANS)