“American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good.” – John F Kennedy.
With PM Modi all set to inaugurate the historic Chenani- Udhampur Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on 2nd April, 2017, there are a few who are extremely uncomfortable with this new development in the Valley. With the separatists calling for a state-wide bandh and an absolute shutdown on the 2nd April against the inauguration of this highway, to block the development of the people of J&K it will be a moment of pride for the nation to watch this tunnel be inaugurated by the Prime Minister.
The project which is expected to be fully complete by 2019 (with a few more tunnels to boost the connectivity in and around J&K) has employed more than 8000 people during its whole tenure of 6 years. It has also helped reduce unemployment in Udhampur and Chainani regions, with localities being offered employment by the contractors.
Built beneath the Shivalik range of Himalayas, this INR 3720 Cr project has been built using the latest of the technology available under the watchful guidance of NHAI. The Himalayan range proved to be the most trickiest when it came to cutting through the hills, with hard rock like surface towards the outside and soft black soil like surface towards the insides. The Indian engineers managed to achieve the impossible using innovative techniques to overcome the hurdles.
Started in 2011, this highway tunnel would be a one of a kind road project to have been completed within 6 years of its inception. Equipped with state of the art technology, the Tunnel has a fire extinguisher and an SOS Box containing a first aid kit at a distance of every 300 meters inside the tunnel. It also has a radio frequency (92.7 MHz) especially dedicated for all the passengers passing through, instructing them general information as that of maintaining the minimum speed, keeping the highway clean at all times and about the presence of the SOS Boxes at regular intervals.
Equipped with 124 cameras and with state of the art linear heat detection system, it would enable the Integrated Tunnel Control Room (ITCR) to man the whole area sitting in a single room not too far away from the tunnel.
The architects of this ambitious road project have also provided for a separate tunnel which can be used by car users in case of any contingency, requiring the main tunnel to be shut down. This provision of an alternate adjacent road with intervals connecting it to the main tunnel at every 300 meters is descriptive of the genius and brilliance of the people involved in its construction.
Benefiting the Aam-Aadmi:
The tunnel which runs 9.2 KMs long would be the longest tunnel in South Asia, connecting Udhampur and Ramban on the 300 KMs Jammu Srinagar highway which will serve as an all weather road, not be affected by any extreme weather conditions.
This tunnel will help the capital connect with remote parts of Jammu & Kashmir, reducing the travel time from Delhi to Vaishno Devi (J&K), from 10 hours to 7 hours. Increased connectivity will directly impact the economy of the region, which until now has been dependent on the Indian Union for financial security.
With a minimum of 15,000 vehicles expected to pass through this tunnel daily, the infrastructural development in areas adjacent to the highway is expected to rise manifolds. Financial independence of the state and the economic development of the people will reduce the menace in Kashmir by leaps and bounds.
Benefitting the Army:
With NH-1 being closed on many occasions due to land slide and heavy snowing, the Udhampur tunnel will further strengthen the connectivity, making it a lot easier for our troops to shuffle between Jammu and Srinagar. The tunnel will aide in swift and quick transportation of essential materials including food and medical aide in times of emergency.
Reaching remote areas and stopping hospitals and schools from being burnt would be more manageable with the ease in accessibility, considering the precedent actions of more than 40 schools being burnt to ashes in the valley by the separatist faction.
Hypocrisy of the separatists:
The hatemongering anti-India section, which claims to be the guardian of the state of J&K, has remained rather deaf and mute to the aggressive encroachment of territory by the Dragon and its allies (China & Pakistan) by way of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), but are up in arms against the developmental change which seeks to bring prosperity to the valley and its people.
Geelani & Co, who are fed by vast sums of money by Pakistan to spew venom in the name of Azadi, did not say a word when thousands of innocent people were butchered in Baluchistan by the Pakistani Army. It is a shame that the people who proclaim to be Kashmiri enthusiasts are rooting for Kashmir’s Barbaadi (Italic).
Loss to the separatists:
The remnants of the separatist faction which has been struggling to make a comeback in the valley, seeking to terrorize the citizens have been dealt with another huge blow with the opening of this tunnel.
Making travel to and fro to Punjab and Delhi much easier and hassle free, their hold over the Kashmiri populace is diminishing by the day and will soon perish into oblivion. Also considering, that the Army would be able to move a lot more freely and swiftly using this new connection, the separatists would be vary of any staged agitation they seek to carry out.
Any nefarious plan to deviate the Kashmiri youth from the path of progress and development to that of stone pelting by way of stopping the free passage of traffic to and fro the valley will not be met with too much enthusiasm by the populace.
This inauguration will further decrease the footprint of the separatist faction and bring the Jammu & Kashmir youth into the mainstream. History has been witness to the fact that areas with remote connectivity have always failed to develop, be it J&K the north east, Chhattisgarh or the remote areas of Maharashtra.
This initiative by the J&K Government (past and present) along with the strong statesmanship of PM Modi has paved the way for the development of J&K and its a moment of pride for all the Indians residing in different regions of India.