Road and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said that so far 144 tunnel projects spanning 357 km across national highways (NH), amounting to ₹2-lakh crore, are currently underway in the country.

The Minister pointed out that 30 tunnels, covering 45 km, are in operation, while another 16 tunnels, adding up to around 120 km, are under implementation and set to be completed within the next one to two years. Besides, 54 tunnels are under the Detailed Project Report (DPR) stage.

Emphasising the need for a professional sector study on tunnelling in India, Gadkari advocated for a transparent, time-bound, result-oriented, and corruption-free system, insisting on the need for liberal, technical, and financial qualifications.

This approach aims to ensure that India’s tunnel projects meet and exceed global standards, utilising innovative practices and cutting-edge technology.

South Portal of Atal Tunnel during snowfall at Rohtang near Manali, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (PTI Photo)

South Portal of Atal Tunnel during snowfall at Rohtang near Manali, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Currently, India has around 1,641 ongoing tunnelling projects spanning nearly 3,445 km. Landmark projects include the Atal Tunnel, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest tunnel at an altitude above 10,000 feet worldwide and the Zojila Tunnel, which is projected to become the longest tunnel in Asia upon completion.

‘Need advanced tunnelling techniques’

Tunnelling Association of India President Mangu Singh stressed the need for advanced tunnelling techniques to support India’s growing road, railway, and metro networks.

“The way we are expanding our road network, railway network and metros, the need for underground construction and tunnelling is very well known. The importance of tunnelling is particularly high in the Himalayan and northeast area,” he added.

FICCI Secretary General Shailesh Pathak said that India’s tunnelling industry is headed for better times. Over the next 25 years of Amrit Kaal, Indian tunnels being created will match the world’s best. The government is putting in place positive and outcome-oriented policies.