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Geographically coordinating at 33.508°N 75.209°E, famous Jawahar Tunnel of the Jammu & Kashmir state is one of the few selected oldest tunnels in the country. It was an important tunnel project several decades ago. Operating in the Banihal – Qazigund route it plays crucial role to make the traffic hassle-free.
Purpose of Tunnel
The construction of Jawahar Tunnel began in the year 1954. It was opened for the masses on December 22, 1956 to ease communication options by offering best possible traffic control option. With purpose to manage traffic automotive service, it was then a biggest project ever by the then design engineers Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel. According to estimates average 7000 vehicles cross it every day.
Designer engineers Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel had taken keen interest to make the present day 2.85 km lengthy tunnel a hallmark while they designed it some six decades ago. Both lanes of this tunnel are operational. The tunnel with its lowest elevation of 2,194m remains a prominent one in the region.
Also denoted with the name Banihal Tunnel the famous Jawahar Tunnel is in fact a landmark road tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir. It had been named after country’s first prime minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru after its completion. The purpose of constructing such huge tunnel was to turn round-the-year surface transportation easy and effective for which German designers Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel were involved.
Dedicated to the nation on 22 December 1956, Jawahar Tunnel is in operation perfectly. The one lane road on either side of this tunnel of 2.85 km at average elevation of 2,194m has proved as lifeline for inhabitants as well as travellers of Jammu & Kashmir state. Its location between Banihāl and Qazigund on the NH-1A, having been renumbered to NH-44, makes this tunnel a major location due to it facilitating road connectivity from Srinagar to Jammu throughout the year.
Progress of the Project
The Border Roads Organization took several steps in the later years to renovate this tunnel under BEACON project in the 1960s. Originally this tunnel had been designed for daily transportation of 150 vehicles on both sides but numbers increased over the period. Today this tunnel caters to the need of approximately 7000 vehicles daily. Post renovations, Jawahar Tunnel has been turned into one of the most organized ones. By now, its additions include a two-way ventilation system, proper lighting system, pollution & temperature sensors and emergency phones amongst others. Border Roads Organization can be easily approached for any type of assistance from these phones.
Military guards Jawahar Tunnel round the clock today. There is strict prohibition on photography and videography inside as well as nearby areas of the tunnel. All vehicle owners are advised to maintain same speed upon entry throughout from start to end. Continuous monitoring of this tunnel is done through the CCTVs being installed at different places. Until 2009, this tunnel had been deliberately closed for the civilian traffic from midnight to 8.00 AM every day. It is now opened for all round the clock.
It is worth noting to mention that while Jawahar Tunnel had been completed in 1959, it maintained the distinction of longest of Asian tunnels.