Road widening, 10.8-km tunnel to shorten travel time as project announced for Amarnath pilgrimage
Union minister Gadkari says tenders for the ₹5,300 crore project announced for Amarnath pilgrimagelikely by year-end; will bring travel time from Srinagar down from three days to 7-8 hours
In what could be a major relief for Amarnath pilgrims, Union minister for road transport and national highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday announced a ₹5,300 crore project for the widening of 110-km long national highway into four lane road from Khannabal to Chandwanwari and further construction of uphill tracks and tunnel to the cave shrine nestled amidst the Himalayas.
Upon completion, the project is tipped to bring down the travel time between Srinagar to the cave shrine to 7 to 8 hours. Presently, it takes three days to cover the stretch via the traditional route of Chandanwari.
Speaking to media persons at Katra, the Union minister said, “I am happy to announce that government has given its consent to ₹5,300 crore project for construction of 73-km long four lane road from Khannabal to Chandanwari at a cost of ₹1,800 crore (including tracks and a 10.8 km long tunnel) to the Amarnath cave shrine,”
Gadkari said the project also would cover a 34-km long two-lane track from Chandwari to Panchtarni to Baltal, to be constructed at a cost of ₹3,500 crore, and a 10.8-km long tunnel from Sheshanag to Panchtarni. “For the 5-km distance from Panchtarni to the holy cave shrine, a 5.5-m broad concrete pedestrian track with barricades on either side will also be constructed,” he added.
The construction of a 9-km long ropeway over the shorter route from Baltal to the cave shrine at a cost of ₹750 crore was also announced.
The tender for the projects will be issued in November-December this year.
Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway to be ready by March next year
Speaking of the eagerly-awaited ₹40,000 crore Delhi-Amritsar-Katra greenfield expressway, Gadkari said, “Presently, the total length is 727 km from Delhi to Katra, but once completed the distance will be reduced by 58 km. Though the deadline for the completion of the project is December 2024, we will try to complete it by the general elections in May before the model code of conduct is imposed. The PM will inaugurate it in February-March next year.”
He informed that once completed, travellers will be able to cover the New Delhi-Amritsar stretch in four hours, reach Katra from Amrtisar in six and Srinagar in another eight hours.
“I don’t feel that once the expressway is completed anyone would come to Mata Vaishno Devi by air,” Gadakati said.
Gadkari also informed that BJP government has now included four Gurudwaras into the expressway project that include Golden Temple in Amritsar, Kapurthala’s Sultanpur Lodhi Gurudwara, Khadur Sahib Gurudwara in Tarn Taran.
The greenfield expressway will connect Ambala, Mohali, Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Kathua and Samba.
Gadkari and Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant general (LG) Manoj Sinha had earlier inspected the Srinagar-Banihal section of Jammu to Udhampur-Ramban-Banihal to Srinagar National Highway (NH-44) being constructed to provide all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Srinagar.
To ease the travel between Jammu and Srinagar, three corridors are being built at a cost of ₹35,000 crore.
Under the project, the first corridor from Jammu to Udhampur-Ramban-Banihal and further to Srinagar will cover the stretch from Srinagar to Banihal. The four-lane road of 250 km length is being built at a cost of ₹16,000 crore. Of this, four-laning of a 210-km route has been completed, including 10 tunnels of 21.5 km.
The design of 4-laning of this road has been done on the basis of geo-technical and geological investigation to overcome the possible landslides in this area. Crash barriers and other road safety measures have also been put in place.
With the construction of the route, Jammu and Srinagar will enjoy all-weather connectivity and the commute will come down from 9-10 hours to 4-5 hours.
Gadkari also paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.