Atal Tunnel, Manali: The World Book of Records has officially certified Atal Tunnel as the longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet in the world. The ceremony for this was held in Delhi on Wednesday, and the achievement was announced by the Union Ministry of Defence. The award of ‘World’s Longest Highway Tunnel above 10,000 Feet’ was received by Border Roads Organisation Director General Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, in an honour marking the achievement of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The tunnel, built by the BRO, connects Lahaul-Spiti Valley with Manali.
On October 3, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the tunnel, dedicating it to the nation. Spanning across a length of 9.02 km, the Atal Tunnel is strategically important and it runs under the Rohtang Pass. It was built on the Manali – Leh Highway and the construction took place in freezing temperatures and very difficult terrain, making the task highly daunting for the BRO. Now, the tunnel has been authentically certified as the longest one at such an altitude by the UK-based World of Records.
The tunnel is significant because before its construction, the highway remained shut for a period of six months due to snowfall and winter. This caused Spiti and Lahaul to be completely isolated from the Indian mainland during the winter months. While the tunnel connected these two areas with India more effectively, it also reduced the distance on the Manali – Sarchu road by 46 km, due to which the travel time went down by four or five hours. With this, an all-weather connectivity has been provided on the Manali-Leh axis, the ministry said.
The construction of the tunnel itself was a challenging task that put to test technical and engineering skills, due to it having been built in harsh and challenging physical features. Not only that but during the construction work, the temperatures went down to a whopping -25 degrees during winters. Meanwhile, inside the tunnel, the temperatures also soared to close to 45 degrees.