Amidst tensions with China, the world’s longest Atal tunnel connecting Manali to Leh has been completed in 10 years. There is a discussion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may come to Manali this month to inaugurate the tunnel. However, no official confirmation has been made yet. The Atal tunnel is more than 10,000 feet long. This will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km. Fast work was going on in this tunnel. However, the construction of this tunnel has taken an additional 4 years from the scheduled time. Earlier construction of this tunnel was scheduled to be completed in 6 years. Due to Corona, its work was halted for a short time.
CCTV every 60 Meters, Exit Point at 500 Meters
Chief Engineer KP Purushothaman said, ‘The Atal tunnel connecting Manali to Leh is the longest highway tunnel in the world. It has CCTVs every 60 meters. Also, an emergency exit has been made every 500 meters inside the tunnel. Due to this tunnel, the distance between Manali to Leh will be reduced by 46 km, which will save 4 hours of movement.
Fire Hydrants are Installed inside the Tunnel
Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel so that they can be used in any kind of untoward incident. KP Purushothaman said, ‘It was very difficult to do the induction and deduction of resources during the construction of the tunnel. We faced many challenges but through teamwork, we were able to complete the construction.
The width of the tunnel is 10.5 meters. It also has 1-1 meter pavements built on both sides. Atal Tunnel Project Director Colonel Parikshit Mehra said that many experts working with the team were of the opinion that tunnel alignment should be changed. He said, ‘It was our dream to connect Leh and this was the first step towards strengthening connectivity. This tunnel was a challenging project, as we were working from only two ends. The other end was north at Rohtang Pass. Only five months could work in a year.
PM Modi can Inaugurate
There is a buzz that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may inaugurate the tunnel on 25 September in Manali. Preparations are being made for the PM’s program, though an official confirmation has yet to be made. The hope of the first Prime Minister coming to Manali on 29 September was being expressed. Border Roads Organization (BRO) ADG Anil Kumar reached out to Manali to take stock of the preparations for the PM’s arrival.
Announcement was made by the Vajpayee Government
Upon completion of the tunnel, all-weather connectivity in remote areas of Lahaul and Spiti valley will be easy. The historic decision to build a tunnel under the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000, when Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of the country. The foundation stone of the road connecting the southern part of Sunang was laid on 26 May 2002. A total of 8.8 kilometers, this tunnel is the longest tunnel in the world built at an altitude of 3000 meters.