Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the Atal Rohtang tunnel, which is the longest highway tunnel in the world above 10,000 feet from seal level. This 9.02 km long tunnel will connect Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Named after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it is built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway in Himachal Pradesh, India. The tunnel was completed in 10 years with hard work put in by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The Atal Tunnel is 10.5-metre wide and offers traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 kmph.
The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to the Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh, which usually gets disconnected from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall atop the Rohtang pass.
The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours. Ensuring safety, the government has installed monitoring systems at every 60 meters along with electromechanical systems like semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire-fighting and illumination. There are telephone connections at every 150 metres for emergency communications and emergency exit tunnels at every 500 meters have been provided for a safe and fast exit.
The foundation of the approach road for this tunnel was laid in the year 2002. The original time frame to finish the construction of the tunned in 2010 was 6 years. The biggest obstacles faced in the construction of the tunnel were high altitudes, unsuitable weather conditions and patches like the Seri Nallah that made the engineering job even more difficult.