India’s longest tunnel, the under construction 11km long tunnel linking Qazigund and Banihal in the state of Kashmir, is expected to be ready in a year’s time. The tunnel passes through the Pir Panjal range of mountains, and when completed, will connect Kashmir Valley with Jammu. Named T8,0 the tunnel will considerably improve connectivity between the two parts of the state since the only road link between the two – the Jawahar tunnel, often remains snow bound and thus, inaccessible. A state-of-the-art tunnelling technology from Austria which integrates surrounding soil formations into a ring-like support structure is being used to construct the tunnel. The tunnel, a part of the Banihal-Qazigund rail link which northern railway officials reportedly expect to open by December 2012, will reduce the distance between Banihal and Qazigaund to just 16km. The Banihal-Qazingund rail link is in turn a part of the bigger 129km long Katra-Qazigund link of the Kashmir Railway project. The hilly and hostile terrain of the route, passing through the Himalayas, has led IRCON, the infrastructure firm executing the project, to build around 67km of access roads to reach the project site. These roads have put 35 remote villages along the route for the first time on the road map.