Atal Tunnel: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the Rohtang Tunnel, also known as the Atal tunnel at Rohtang on the morning of Saturday, ie, October 3. The Rohtang tunnel, named after former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was slated to be completed by May 2020, according to an IE report. However, the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown caused the project to be delayed by a few months. The tunnel holds strategic importance as it poses an alternative to the Rohtang Pass and reduces the travel time between Manali valley and Lahaul-Spiti Valley significantly, hence providing a boost to the movement of armed forces. Rohtang tunnel or the Atal tunnel is also said to be the longest highway tunnel in the world at a height of above 10,000 feet.
Atal Tunnel: 15 interesting facts about Rohtang tunnel
Here are a few facts about the long-awaited tunnel Rohtang tunnel in Himachal Pradesh:
- The Atal Tunnel, with its 9.02-km length, is said to be the longest highway tunnel in the world above 10,000 feet.
- It is a perennial, all-weather tunnel, meant to tackle the issue of the Lahaul-Spiti Valley being cut off for 6 months every year due to snowfall.
- Set in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas, the Atal tunnel has been constructed at an altitude of 10,000 feet or 3,000 metres. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) had been engaged for the construction work.
- Atal Tunnel has been fitted with ultra-modern specifications.
- The tunnel also reduces the road distance between Leh and Manali by a significant 46 kilometres, causing the travel time to fall by four to five hours.
- Shaped like a horse-shoe, the Rohtang tunnel is double-laned and in a single tube. Moreover, it has a roadway of 8 metres. The overhead clearance of the tunnel is 5.525 metres. The width of the tunnel is 10.5 metres.
- A fire-proof emergency exit tunnel has also been built within the main tunnel itself. This emergency tunnel is 3.6 metres by 2.25 metres.
- Atal Tunnel has been designed to handle the maximum speed of 80 kms per hour. It can also handle a traffic density of 1,500 trucks per day and 3,000 cars per day.
- The tunnel has two portals – South Portal and North Portal. The former is 25 kms from Manali, standing at an altitude of 3,060 metres. The North Portal, on the other hand, is near Teling village in Lahaul Valley, at 3,071 metres above sea level.
- Atal Tunnel has also been equipped with a state-of-the-art electromechanical system. It contains a SCADA-controlled illumination, monitoring as well as fire-fighting system, and semi-transverse ventilation system.
- Authorities have also ensured that the tunnel remains safe, with several safety features put in place. Tunnel entry barriers have been placed at both the portals, while arrangements have been made for telephone connections to be available every 150 metres for an emergency.
- The Rohtang tunnel also contains an auto incident detection system, and CCTV cameras have been fitted every 250 metres.
- The provision for air quality monitoring has been placed at every 1 km. Evacuation lighting and exit signs are also present at every 25 metres.
- The broadcasting system has been put in place throughout the tunnel.
- The tunnel was earlier called Rohtang Tunnel but was renamed as Atal Tunnel on December 24 last year to honour the former PM, during whose tenure the decision to construct the tunnel had been taken.