Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the longest highway tunnel in the world, Atal Tunnel, in Rohtang on October 3, at 10 am.
Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the World. The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall.
The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL). The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about five to six hours.
The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 meters, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 meters.
It is horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 meters. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 meters. It is 10.5-metre wide and has a 3.6 x 2.25 meters fireproof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
Atal Tunnel has been designed for traffic density of 3,000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day with a max speed of 80 km per hour. It has the state of the art electromechanical system including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system.
The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it. Some of the key safety features includes — entry barriers at both portals, telephone connections at every 150 meters for emergency communication, fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60 meters, auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 meters, air quality monitoring at every 1 Km, evacuation lighting or exit signs at every 25 meters, broadcasting system throughout the tunnel, fire-rated Dampers at every 50 meters and also has cameras at every 60 meters.
The historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000, when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The foundation stone for the Access Road to the South Portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) worked relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone. The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017.
The Union Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 December 2019 and decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel to honour the contribution made by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After attending the inauguration function of the Atal Tunnel at South Portal, Manali, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shall be participating in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley.