PM to inaugurate 11-km-long Banihal rail tunnel on June 25

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will begin his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 25. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi is likely to accompany the Prime Minister during his visit.

Official sources said the Prime Minister would inaugurate the 11-km-long railway tunnel between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir on June 25.

The tunnel, which has been completed with an estimated cost of Rs 1,300 crore, is part of the 345-km-long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail project of Northern Railway. It has been constructed at a height of 5,770 feet in the Pir Panjal range.

“The Prime Minister will also inaugurate the historic 84-km Mughal Road project that connects the Kashmir valley with the Jammu division through Poonch. The road will reduce the 541-km distance from Poonch to Srinagar via Jammu to 174 km, and the travel time from 32 hours through Jammu to seven hours via Bafliaz and Shopian,” an official said.

The road, which has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 639.85 crore, connects Bafliaz, a town in the Surankote area of Poonch district in Jammu division, to Shopian district in the Kashmir Valley. It passes over the Pir Panjal range at an altitude of 11,500 feet, which is much higher than the Banihal tunnel area.

The Mughal Road project was sanctioned under the Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) in 2004. The idea of the new Mughal Road was conceived in the 1950s with an aim of improving the connectivity with the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.

It is believed that the caravans of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan used this road to travel to Kashmir during the 17th century.

Sources said Singh was likely to lay the foundation of the prestigious Rattle Hydroelectric Project with a generation capacity of 850 megawatt. The power plant is being constructed over the Chenab at Drabshala village in Kishtwar district.

This will be the fourth hydroelectric plant on the Chenab in the Jammu region. The 390-MW Dulhasti power project in Kishtwar, 450-MW Baglihar project in Ramban, 360 MW-Salal project in Reasi have already been set up on the river.

The sources said the tendering process had been completed for the project, which is being constructed on BOOT (Built, Operate, Own and Transfer) basis. The Kishtwar district administration has handed over the possession of approximately 5,418 kanals to GVK Powers and Infrastructure Ltd for the construction of the Rattle project.

The project is expected to provide employment to at least 5,000 youth.

The sources said the state government was working out the visit of Sonia Gandhi along with the Prime Minister as her schedule was yet to be finalised.

INDIA’S LONGEST TUNNEL

The 11-km-long railway tunnel between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir is the longest in the country. It has been completed at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore
The tunnel is part of the 345-km-long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail project of Northern Railway. It has been constructed at a height of 5,770 feet in the Pir Panjal range.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130615/j&k.htm#1

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