The world's longest highway tunnel above above 10,000 feet will soon become operational. As per reports, the construction process that took about a decade has finally been completed. It links Manali to Leh and will now enable year round connectivity, irrespective of inclement weather conditions.
The Atal Tunnel is being constructed since the Manali-Sarchu-Leh road remains closed for six months as the Rohtang Pass becomes inaccessible for months in the winter season. Here is all you need to know about the architectural feat summed up in 10 points:
1. The project was conceived in 1983 and in June 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced it. However, it was only in June 2010 that work on the tunnel actually began, after being shelved repeatedly.
2. The project was expected to be completed in less than six years. It however took a little more than 10 years to be completed fully. Reports indicate that it will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi by the end of the month.
3. The tunnel will connect Manali to the Lahaul Valley and will reduce the road length of Manali-Rohtang Pass Sarchu-Leh road by 46 kilometres. The 8.8 km long tunnel is world's longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres. It is 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fire proof emergency tunnel built into main tunnel itself.
4. It will also aid forward connectivity offering the security forces a major strategic advantage.
5. The tunnel had not initially been named thus. In December 2019, Prime Minister Modi had renamed the Rohtang Passageway as the Atal Tunnel to mark the 95th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister.
6. The COVID-19 pandemic had not halted work at the tunnel for long. While work was halted for 10 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the crucial construction work had continued in spite of the lockdown, with the Border Roads Organisation taking proactive measures.
7. A tweet by the CGM of BSNL, Maharashtra Circle, indicates the involvement of the company in the work on the tunnel. "The installation of 3Nos, 4G BTS was completed by BSNL engineers at ATAL Tunnel, Rohtang to meet the strategic requirements in frontier areas ," read the post.