On October 3, 2020 Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated ‘Atal Tunnel’ – World’s Longest Highway Tunnel in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. The 9.02 Kilometre Long Tunnel has been constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at a cost of INR 3, 300 crores. It connects Manali and Lahaul-Spiti Valley.
i.The Tunnel is built in the Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Meters (10, 000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
ii.Prior to construction of Tunnel, Lahaul-Spiti valley was cut off for 6 months due to heavy snowfall.
iii.It reduces the road distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometers and time by about 4 to 5 hours, the distance between Manali and Keylong (Himachal) will be reduced by 3-4 hours.
iv.The South Portal (SP) of the Atal Tunnel is located a distance of 25 kilometers from Manali and the North Portal (NP) is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley.
v.The Tunnel can withstand traffic density of 3, 000 cars a day and 1, 500 trucks a day at a maximum speed of 80 Kilometres Per Hour.
Highest Motorway Tunnel in the world:
The Atal Tunnel, running across the 13,050-ft high Rohtang pass, on the Manali-Leh axis is the highest motorable highway tunnel in the world.
NATM Tunneling Method:
The Tunnel has been built by adopting the latest NATM (New Austrian Tunneling Method) technique.
The construction contract of Tunnel was awarded to Strabag-Afcons, and it is a joint venture between India-based Afcons Infrastructure and Austria’s Strabag.
i.The announcement for the Project was made on May 26, 2002.
ii.The foundation stone for the tunnel was laid by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010.
iii.The Rohtang Tunnel was renamed as Atal Tunnel by the Union Cabinet on December 25, 2019 in the memory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
i.It has a modern electromechanical system which includes semi transverse ventilation, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System) controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring systems.
ii.The tunnel has been equipped with security features such as CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras, telephone connections, fire hydrant mechanism and auto incident detection system.
iii.It also has evacuation lighting, exit signs and broadcasting system throughout.
Significance of Tunnel:
i.The tunnel will enable Farmers, Horticulturalists to have easy access to the capital of Delhi and other places.
ii.The tunnel is significant from the military logistics point of view, as it ensures better connectivity to Ladakh for the armed forces.
About Himachal Pradesh:
Chief Minister – Jai Ram Thakur
Governor – Bandaru Dattatraya