Today the world’s longest highway tunnel has been inaugurated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Atal tunnel in Rohtang, Himachal Pradesh on Saturday morning. Due to the opening of this Atal tunnel, the distance between Manali and Leh was reduced by 46 kilometers. After the inauguration ceremony, PM Modi took part in a public function in Lahaul Spiti’s Sisu and Solang Valley.
The Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world and the 9.02 long tunnel will connect Manali to the Lahaul Spiti valley for years. Earlier, the valley was cut off from the rest due to heavy snowfall for six months. The tunnel is built at an altitude of about three thousand meters above sea level with state-of-the-art specialties among the mountain ranges of Pir Panjal in the Himalayas.
In December 2019, the Modi government decided to name the tunnel as Atal Tunnel in honor of the former Prime Minister, who died last year. From this tunnel, 3000 cars and 1500 trucks may come at a speed of 80 km per hour. Extensive arrangements have been made in the tunnel for fire fighting, lighting, and surveillance.
The decision to construct this historic tunnel under the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000, during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Its foundation stone was laid on 26 May 2002 and since then the Border Roads Organization was engaged in completing it despite all adverse conditions. The tunneling work in the 587-meter area in the Seri Nala Fault Zone was the most challenging and was completed on 15 October 2017.
The southern portal of the Atal Tunnel is built at a height of 3060 meters at a distance of 25 km from Manali while the northern portal is located at an altitude of 3071 meters near Taling, Sisu village in Lahaul Valley. The horseshoe-shaped two-lane tunnel has an eight-meter wide road and has a height of 5.525 meters.
There are barriers at both gates of this tunnel. Telephones are installed every 150 meters and fire-fighting equipment is installed every 60 meters to communicate in emergencies. CCTV cameras are installed every two hundred meters and air quality monitoring system for every kilometer for automatic detection of incidents. There are signs of emergency exit every 25 meters and a broadcasting system has been installed throughout the tunnel.