Sunday, July 21, 2024

Construction on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway Halts Temporarily as Tunnel Develops Bulges

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has temporarily halted construction work on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway (NH 44) due to the emergence of bulges and pressure inside an under-construction tunnel, officials reported on Saturday.

NHAI officials noted the appearance of bulges and pressure on the side walls of the tunnel approximately a week ago, with around 150 meters of the stretch being affected. Consequently, work has been suspended for the past week, and personnel and machinery have been removed from the tunnel. Out of a total of 800 meters, NHAI has excavated approximately 400 meters so far.

The tunnel, located at Mehar in Ramban district, aims to bypass the landslide-prone Cafeteria Morh. Construction began around a year and a half ago. Although the pressure and bulges have ceased increasing, the situation is under investigation by experts and designers, according to an NHAI official.

No cracks have appeared on the affected stretch, and the official emphasized that the work suspension is a precautionary measure, not an abandonment. Excavation work began at both portals (P1 and P2) in Mehar, where frequent landslides, mudslides, and slush block the highway. Portal 2’s work has been suspended since June this year.

Given the seismic challenges posed by the fragile Himalayan hills in Jammu and Kashmir (falling in seismic zones four and five), construction companies in the region face difficulties in executing road and rail projects. In May last year, a tunnel under construction near Khooni Nallah in Ramban district collapsed, resulting in the tragic death of 10 workers. The 270km Jammu-Srinagar national highway serves as the sole all-weather surface link connecting Kashmir with the outside world.

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