It takes not just money but a strong will to dig in tunnels. Perhaps that is the reason why many tunnels planned decades back went into cold-storage at later stages. The Modi government may be remembered for bringing back the vigour to critical infrastructure projects, and carving tunnels on tough mountains to ease the life and meet the strategic requirement are major highlights in this effort.
Zojila Tunnel – All Weather Connectivity
The work on the Zojila Tunnel that was conceived back in 2005 in J&K has finally taken off with ceremonial blasting. The construction of this tunnel will provide all-weather safe connectivity between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions. The all-weather safe connectivity of the road is immensely important from the strategic point of view as well.
The tunnel will reduce the travel time between the two points from the present 3 hours to mere 15 minutes. Apart from this, it also makes the travel safe as it makes Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.
There had been a public demand from Kargil, Drass and Ladakh region for the last 30 years for this tunnel. The economic and social benefit it brings upon completion is huge, considering that this helps to connect the regions that become cut-off from the rest in winter.
Kolkata Metro Tunnel – Trains Will Ply Underwater
Another significant infrastructure project which is nearing completion is the underwater tunnel for Metro under river Hooghly. This is the first ever transportation tunnel under any river in India.
East – West Metro line is a 16.5 kms long stretch which connects Howrah on the West bank of river Hooghly with Salt Lake city on the East bank. The project is being executed by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL). 10.8 kms of the stretch is underground and 5.75 kms will be on elevated viaduct. It is India’s first ever transportation project where trains will ply under the mighty Hooghly. This project will be immensely helpful in easing the traffic congestion of Kolkata.
On October 3, 2020 Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Atal tunnel at Rohtang, making it the longest highway tunnel in the world. You can read the details in our article The Tunnel Conceived by the Vajpayee Govt Sees the Light of the Day, Becomes World’s Longest Highway Tunnel.
Chenani – Nashri tunnel inaugurated earlier in 2017 is hailed as the longest road tunnel in South Asia. The 9.2 KMs long twin-tube tunnel has reduced the travel time on National Highway 44 between Jammu and Srinagar by about 2 hours by shortening the distance between the cities by 30 km. The tunnel is equipped with world class “integrated tunnel control system” which means, it has features like ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems which will be automatically actuated.
Tunnels in Northeast
There are many tunnel works planned for the hilly regions of Northeast states. They will ease the lives of people by reducing time of travel and some give strategic strength along the LAC as well.
In February 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the Sela Tunnel Project in Arunachal Pradesh. The project aimed at all weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas; reduction in more than one hour of travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang; safe journey avoiding snowfall.