SOURCE: Hindustan Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday inaugurate the Atal Tunnel under the Rohtang Pass that connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh, which will be available for commuters throughout the year unlike earlier when the valley was cut off for about six months every year amid heavy snowfall.
The 9.02km long tunnel has been built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres from the mean sea level. Atal Tunnel, which is the longest highway tunnel in the world, reduces the road distance by 46km between Manali and Leh and the travel time by about four to five hours, according to the statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday.
It is a horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres, the statement added. Designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr, the tunnel is 10.5-metre wide and a 3.6×2.25 metre fireproof emergency egress tunnel has been built into the main tunnel itself.
The tunnel has been built keeping in mind several safety measures. Entry barriers at both north and south portals, telephone connections at every 150 metres, fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60 metres, air quality monitoring, CCTV cameras, evacuation lighting and exit signs at every 25 metres and broadcasting system throughout the stretch are some of the key safety features built into the Atal Tunnel.
The decision to construct the tunnel was taken on June 3, 2000, under the prime ministership of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The foundation stone for the Access Road to the South Portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002, the PMO said. However, in 2019 the Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of PM Modi resolved to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel in honour of the former prime minister.
After attending the inauguration function at South Portal, Manali, Modi will participate in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley, PMO said.