MANALI (Himachal Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh. PM Modi was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, Chief of Defence Staff, CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
Earlier CDS General Rawat and Army Chief General Naravane received the Prime Minister at the South Portal of Atal Tunnel of Rohtang. Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur received the PM at Sase Helipad at Manali.
Atal Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in the world was built by the Border Roads Organisation. The tunnel reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours. The 9.02-km tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year, the valley was earlier cut off for about six months every year due to heavy snowfall.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken the decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass on June 3, 2000, and the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.
In December 2019, the Government decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel in honour of the former Prime Minister and scholar Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had passed away the previous year.
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- The Atal Tunnel is constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3500-4000 crores.
- It reduces the distance between Leh and Manali by 46 km, the tunnel will bring down the driving time by around 4 hours.
- The BRO built this tunnel in the shape of a horseshoe.
- It is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres.
- It is a 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fireproof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
- With the help of this tunnel, connectivity to the remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh will easily be possible, regardless of the weather conditions.
- The opening of the Atal Tunnel will bring a boost in tourism activities in the Lahaul-Spiti region and will also simultaneously create more employment opportunities for locals in the area.
- The tunnel also provides a telephone facility on every 150 meters, a fire hydrant on every 60 meters, an emergency exit on every 500 meters, a turning cavern on every 2.2 km, an air quality monitoring on every 1 km, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras on every 250 meters.
- The construction of this tunnel consumed 14,508 metric tonnes of steel, 2,37,596 metric tonnes of cement, and 14 lakh cubic meters of soil and rocks.
- This tunnel is unique in its own way as it is India’s first tunnel to have an escape tunnel within the main tunnel due to the topography. It is also the first tunnel to deploy the Rowa flyer technology, which allows engineers to work at inverted levels.