Patnitop, April 19: The South Asia’s longest Chenani-Nashri road tunnel inaugurated recently have brought Kashmir Valley closer by few kilometres to the rest of the world but left hoteliers in ‘isolation’ as it has partially cut off Patnitop tourist spot situated in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Chenani-Nashri road tunnel was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 2.
The opening of tunnel relieved many especially the truckers, taxi and bus operators, who used to get stuck up on the highway either due to landslide or heavy snowfall in winter but simultaneously, left the hoteliers at Patnitop dejected as it hampered the hospitality industry.
Patnitop is a hilltop tourist location in Udhampur district on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, 112 km from Jammu.
Situated on a plateau in the Shivalik belt of the Himalayas while the river Chenab flows in close proximity to this location. “The tunnel is one of its kind fitted with hi-tech gadgets and relieved many but the hotel industry has got completely affected with the opening of the tunnel,” Subhash Kumar, a hotel manager said.
He said that after the opening of tunnel there is considerable fall in hotel bookings. The manager further said that not only the hotels but the small scale shopkeepers and the vendors, who used to earn their ‘bread and butter’, also got affected, adding, “most of the vehicles now prefer to cross the tunnel to reach Nashri rather than opting for route via Patnitop.”
Earlier, the vehicles used to have brief halt at Patnitop for tea break or lunch but with tunnel thrown open for traffic, more than 70 per cent of vehicles on way to Kashmir or vice versa, do not come to this station, he asserted.
“Now tourists, who specially visit to Patnitop or the locals, who hardly stay for a day, come to this tourist spot and leave for their destinations,” he added and said that government has also not completely developed this destination and provided much facilities so that the visitors spend some time here.
Chenani-Nashri tunnel is built on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and besides reducing the distance between the two capital cities of the state considerably it will also be helpful in ensuring all weather traffic movement. The 9.2 km long twin-tube tunnel project cost Rs 2519 crore.
The tunnel, which is located at an elevation of 1200 metres, will be the first in India to be equipped with world class “integrated tunnel control system” through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems will be automatically actuated.
The tunnel will reduce the travel time between the two state capitals of Jammu and Srinagar by two-and-a-half hours while the road distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of the existing 41 km. The work on the tunnel, which is part of a 286-km-long four-lane project on the highway, started on May 23, 2011, in lower Himalayan mountain range with a of cost Rs 3,720 crore.
Chenani-Nashri tunnel is Asia’s first and longest bi-directional highway tunnel with fully transverse ventilation system. In total 19 km long excavation was done for main tunnel, escape tunnel and cross passage, built in record time of 4 years – first in the world. (UNI)