Press Trust of india

Banihal old alignment road likely to be opened next week: BRO

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Banihal/Jammu, Mar 09 : The old Banihal alignment bypassing the Jawahar Tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar will be made motorable and thrown open as an alternate route within a week after being cleared of snow and making necessary repairs, a Border Road Organisation official said Monday.

The work is on in full swing to clear the old Banihal alignment of snow to make it motorable by next week, said Ajay Singh, the officer-in-charge of BRO’s Project Beacon 99, tasked with the responsibility of keeping roads open in the Valley and parts of Jammu region.

“The condition of the old Banihal alignment is good and satisfactory. It will be thrown open as an alternate route once the snow clearance operation gets over and necessary repairs are done in the next seven days,” Singh told PTI.

In case of any emergency or restriction of traffic via Jawahar Tunnel, this road can be used as an alternate route for unrestricted traffic movement on the 270-km highway, he said.

Singh said his men are maintaining both tubes of Jawahar Tunnel and undertaking necessary repairs on daily basis besides keeping dozens of CCTV cameras functional.

The BRO’s project BEACON was the only agency to look after the maintenance and repair of the highway over the past six decades but now the area of its operation is confined to a small stretch of 31 kms of the arterial road between Banihal and Qazigund and 41 kms of Banihal Old Alignment road via Pirpanjal top.

Apart from traditional machines, the BRO has inducted four Italy-made snow cutters equipped with the latest technology, he said.

Sources in Beacon said the BRO has proposed renovation and upgradation of both tubes of the tunnel during summer.

They said the repair and renovation process of the tunnel would be done in a phased manner to ensure minimum inconvenience to commuters while diverting the one-way traffic through Banihal old alignment road.

If the proposal gets a nod, the eastern tube of the tunnel will be first taken up for upgradation and renovation as per latest technologies in May-June followed by the another tube, the sources said, adding the BRO wants to upgrade the tunnel, built in 1956, in line with the Chenani-Nashri tunnel and other tunnels which are under construction as part of the four-laning of the highway.

The work is in progress on 8.5 km Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, which is going to bypass Jawahar Tunnel on its completion next year and reduce the distance by 16 kms.

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