Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the longest highway tunnel in the World, Atal Tunnel on October 3, 2020. The 9.02 km-long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. This tunnel will be a huge road connectivity boost for the region as earlier, the valley was cut off for about six months each year owing to heavy snowfall.
After attending the inauguration function of the Atal Tunnel in Manali, PM Modi will be participating in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley.
The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL). The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 kilometres between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
Key features of the Atal Tunnel:
The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 metres.
It is horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 Mtrs. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 Mtrs.
It is 10.5-metre wide and has a 3.6 x 2.25 metres fireproof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
The 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/hr.
It has the state of the art electromechanical system including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system.
Salient safety features of Atal Tunnel:
- Tunnel entry barriers at both portals
- Telephone connections at every 150 Mtrs for emergency communication.
- Fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60 Mtrs.
- Auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 Mtrs.
- Air quality monitoring at every 1 Km.
- Evacuation lighting/exit signs at every 25 Mtrs.
- Broadcasting system throughout the tunnel.
- Fire-rated Dampers at every 50 Mtrs.
- Cameras at every 60 Mtrs.
For those who are not aware, the historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 03, 2000, when 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 Tunnel was named Rohtang Tunnel initially. However, after the Union Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year on 24th December, it was decided that the name of the tunnel will be changed from Rohtang Tunnel to Atal Tunnel to honour the contribution made by the former Prime Minister.
The tunnel project was extremely challenging because of the rough terrain. 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 in 2017.