Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate Jammu and Kashmir tunnel

Pointing out that Kashmir has the potential of rapidly increasing per capita income of its people, Prime Minister said that "I can realise it's strength as I have worked and lived here as an RSS". For the last 40 years, much blood has been spilled, but nothing has been achieved. "This bloodshed has not done good to anybody but has only snatched sons from their mothers", Modi said. "That can not be done by my government alone", Mehbooba said at a rally here just before the Prime Minister spoke after inaugurating a tunnel between Kashmir and Jammu. "But if tourism had been promoted in these 40 years, Kashmir would have been number one tourist destination in the world", he said.

SRI NAGAR:Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated India's longest and Asia's first bi-directional road tunnel at Battal Ballian in Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur district.

Jain said that now travel between Jammu and Srinagar takes at least nine hours, and many times, traffic gets halted for days due to landslides and avalanches.

Opposition NC president Farooq Abdullah said while economic development and infrastructural growth was essential, the state would continue to suffer unless the Centre takes a political initiative to resolve the Kashmir issue.

"Even the ecologist will praise this tunnel as it will save Himalayas", Modi said. Passengers will be taken to the parallel escape tunnel using cross passage made at every 300 m in tunnel.

The PM said, "This tunnel will not only shorten the distance between Srinagar and Jammu but is a big leap of development".

A government press release said the project "has provided employment to over 2,000 unskilled and skilled youth of Jammu and Kashmir as 94 percent of the workforce was from the state". In addition to increased security, Modi's government has tried wooing the local population with the promise of a better future through investment, job creation and infrastructure development.

Once all the other 12 tunnels are constructed, it will reduce the length of the 293 km between Jammu and Srinagar by 62 km.

The tunnel, which took over five years to build, will also bypass some 44 avalanche - and landslide -prone spots on the almost 300-km-long highway, which shuts when it rains heavily and snows in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were also present on the occasion.

Technologically, this is one of the most advanced road tunnels built in the country, surmounting challenges of terrain and distance, Managing Director, ABB India, Sanjeev Sharma said. The beauty of this land can draw so many people.

He said that the tunnel will preserve the ecology of the Himalayan mountain and it will benefit farmers in Kashmir valley who can now sell and send their crops to the markets in Delhi and other states.

  • Patricia Jimenez