India has stepped up its road development in J&K and the adjoining borders in the recent years, enhancing the business prospects in the region as well as the border security amidst recent border clashes with China.
Crux of the Matter
The development of the Katra- Delhi Express Road Corridor was recently initiated, which is expected to be completed by 2023. The Road Corridor would pass through Kathua, Jammu Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, etc, with the estimated cost of the project being ₹35,000 crores.
The travel time between Delhi and Jammu is expected to be 6 hours after the completion as compared to 9.5-10 hours taken today, and more travellers are expected to go by roads to holy places like Vaishno Devi, Amritsar, etc. Besides the Road Corridor, the plan to widen the National Highway between Pathankot and Jammu from 4-lane to 6-lane was also initiated recently.
Both these measures are cited as “revolutionary” in bringing investment to the region.
Atal Rohtang Tunnel
Atal Rohtang Tunnel, an 8.8 km long tunnel connecting Manali and Keylong is expected to be inaugurated in September 2020. The tunnel, named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would become the longest highway tunnel in the world above an elevation of 10,000 feet, with the tunnel being constructed at an elevation of 10,171 feet. The tunnel is expected to “become the strategic route for supplies and logistics to the Indian Defence Forces deployed in Ladakh.”
Road Development In J&K
- 181 road works of length 1,292 km have been completed during the last one year in Jammu & Kashmir. 11 bridges have also been completed in the same period. The total expenditure of the 181 road works and 11 bridges has been ₹715 crores.
- 1858 roads of length 11,517 km and 84 bridges have been completed in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir till July 2020.
- 96 roads of length 699 km and 2 bridges have been completed till July 2020 in Ladakh.
- Works in both the UTs have been done under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
- Notably, the Link Road from T03 to Stok (a village in Leh) was constructed “using plastic waste for the first time in the entire Leh district”.
Recent Major Tunnels
- Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee tunnel (former: Chenani-Nashri tunnel)
The tunnel is the longest road tunnel in India with a length of 9.28 km, and has reduced the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km. The cost of the tunnel development was around ₹3,720 crore.
- Zojila Tunnel
The work for the Zojila tunnel is expected to start in 2020. Located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, the Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet. The tunnel is expected to become the longest tunnel in India after completion with a length of 14.15 km, and would reduce the driving time from 3.5 hours to 15 mins.
Infrastructure Development On Borders
- Expenditure of the Indian Government on roads along the China border has increased from ₹4,600 crores in 2016 to ₹11,800 crores in 2020. In comparison, the expenditure increased only from ₹3,300 crores in 2008 to ₹4,600 crores in 2016.
- Tunnels: 1 tunnel was completed in the 2008-14 period, while 6 tunnels have been completed in the 2014-20 period.
- The Road surfacing rate has increased from 170 km/year (2008-17) to 380 km/year (2017-20).
- 3,610 km of roads were completed in the 2008-14 period, which increased to 4,764 km in the 2014-20 period.
- Khardung La is a mountain pass in the Leh district of Ladakh. It is the world’s highest motorable pass.
- The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) at 5,846 kilometres, is the largest highway project in India and the fifth-longest in the world. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the project on 6 January 1999.
- Smart highway and smart road are terms for a number of different ways technologies are incorporated into roads, for improving the operation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), for traffic lights and street lighting, and for monitoring the condition of the road, etc. The Smart Highway concept developed by Studio Roosegaarde and the infrastructure management group Heijmans in the Netherlands incorporated photo-luminescent paint for road markings, which absorb light during the day then glow for up to 10 hours.
- Livemint – Jammu to Delhi in 6 hours! Delhi-Katra expressway to be completed by 2023
- Financial Express – Rohtang Tunnel: PM Modi likely to inaugurate world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet in September
- Times Now – 84 bridges, 1,858 roads stretching over 11,500 km completed in J&K: Govt
- The Economic Times – India’s spending on LAC roads has tripled in 4 years
- The Hindu – Zojila tunnel may undergo design changes: Gadkari