Rohtang tunnel: The much-talked about Rohtang tunnel, which is being constructed at 3,000 metres above the sea level will provide all-season connectivity to Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It will be one of the country’s longest road tunnels at approximately 8.8 kilometres length. The Rohtang tunnel is being built in the Eastern Pir Panjal ranges on the Leh-Manali Highway – interestingly under the Rohtang Pass! According to an IANS report, the Rohtang tunnel is likely to be completed by 2020. The development work of the ambitious Rohtang tunnel project is being carried out by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a wing of the Defence Ministry, in collaboration with Afcons, a joint venture with Strabag AG. Here are 5 facts about the Rohtang tunnel that you should know:
1) The Rohtang tunnel will reduce the road distance by nearly 46 km and will save up to 5 hours between Manali and Keylong. Also, is has the capacity to ply 3,000 vehicles per day under any weather condition.
2) Both ends of the Rohtang Tunnel, which can be accessed after negotiating 20 landslide and snow avalanche zones, is located at altitudes ranging above 3,000 metres and lies beneath the snow-covered Rohtang Pass, whose 70% of the top remains under snow even during summer season.
3) The Rohtang Pass highway tunnel, which is located in the Pir Panjal ranges will provide ample room for two-way traffic and is designed to cater to a maximum vehicular speed of 80 km per hour. Moreover, once the project is completed, it will be a boon for over 20,000 people in the cold deserts of Lahaul Valley, who remain cut off from rest of the nation in winter season due to the closure of the Rohtang Pass.
4) One of the biggest challenges which is being faced by the tunnel is a rivulet that sprung up in 2012 during the digging of the tunnel. An engineer who is involved in the tunnel construction was quoted saying in the report that considering the current pace of work, all civil engineering work is likely to be over by December 2019. He also said that all electrical, as well as ventilation works, were also in progress, therefore, the tunnel, in all probabilities, will be made operational by May-June 2020. Another engineer recently stated that earlier they were encountering the Seri rivulet’s impact in 562-metre area, but now they have managed to reduce its impact to just 30 metres. He further claimed that very soon, they will manage to control its entire flow and seepage inside the tunnel.
5) According to the officials, Rohtang tunnel is a key project for Defence Ministry as it wants to make the entire Manali-Keylong-Leh highway, which is 475 km long and is used by the armed forces to reach forward areas in Ladakh bordering Pakistan and China, motorable round the year.
The foundation stone of the project, which is worth of Rs 1,495 crore was laid on June 28, 2010 by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in Solang Valley. Due to harsh climatic conditions and tough geographical conditions in the Himalayas, the Rohtang tunnel project has missed several deadline.