‘New Strength to Border Infra’: PM Modi Inaugurates Atal Tunnel

The Atal Tunnel reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours.

Updated
India
4 min read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, 3 October, inaugurated the Atal Tunnel beneath the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh. The strategically important all-weather tunnel is the world's longest highway tunnel.

The Atal Tunnel, which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours, is a 9.02 km-long tunnel. It will connect Manali with the Lahaul-Spiti Valley throughout the year. Earlier, the valley was cut off for about six months each year owing to heavy snowfall.

PM Modi travelled from South Portal of Atal Tunnel at Rohtang to North Portal of the tunnel located in Sissu, Lahaul Valley. He addressed two events, one each on either side of the tunnel.

He also flagged off a bus carrying 15 passengers from the north portal of the tunnel.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane were present at the ceremony, along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

  • 01/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur (R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (L) during the inauguration of Atal tunnel, in Manali.(Photo: PTI)
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur (R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (L) during the inauguration of Atal tunnel, in Manali.
  • 02/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh(R) and Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur during the inauguration of Atal tunnel, in Manali.(Photo: PTI)
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh(R) and Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur during the inauguration of Atal tunnel, in Manali.
  • 03/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur (R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (L) during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.(Photo: PTI)
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur (R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (L) during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.
  • 04/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur and other dignitaries inaugurates the Atal Tunnel, in Manali(Photo: PTI)
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur and other dignitaries inaugurates the Atal Tunnel, in Manali
  • 05/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur ( front row-R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (front row-L) during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.(Photo: PTI)
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur ( front row-R) and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh (front row-L) during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.
  • 06/06
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.(Photo: PTI)
     Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur and Director General of BRO Harpal Singh during the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, in Manali.

Project Was Stuck During the Congress Regime: PM Modi in Rohtang

Addressing the first event at Rohtang, PM Modi said that the Atal Tunnel will give new strength to India's border infrastructure.

“It is an example of world-class border connectivity. There have been demands to improve border infrastructure, but for a long time such projects either couldn't get out of planning stage or got stuck midway,” he said.

PM Modi said that after Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone of the approach road of the tunnel in 2002, till 2013-2014, progress was made only on 1,300 metres of this tunnel.

“Many other important projects were treated in the same way as Atal tunnel. The strategically important Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh remained closed for 40-45 years. I don't want to go into details as to what was the helplessness and the pressure behind it,” he said.

Addressing the first event, Singh said that the tunnel is dedicated to the soldiers and citizens in the border areas.

“Border Roads Organisation completed construction of Atal Tunnel within its estimated cost of construction. This tunnel is dedicated to the soldiers guarding our borders and those living near border areas,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that the inauguration of the tunnel had put the state on the world map.

“After construction of this tunnel at the height of 10,040 feet, Himachal Pradesh, a small state, has got recognition not only in the nation but in the whole world. There is no other tunnel of this length at this height,” he said.

‘Tunnel Will Connect Lahaul Youth to Development Opportunities’: PM Modi

Addressing a second event after reaching the south portal, PM Modi said that the tunnel will connect the youth of the entire region with many employment opportunities.

“With the construction of Atal Tunnel, the farmers of Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi, people associated with horticulture, cattle-rearers, students and traders will be benefitted,” he said during the rally in Sissu, Lahaul Valley.

“Atal Tunnel will connect the youth of this entire region with many employment opportunities,” he added

CM Thakur at the second event said: “We are planning on how to connect Atal Tunnel and tourism. It will help bring tourists from around the world to the Lahaul valley. It will help improve the economy.”

Key Features of the Tunnel

  • The tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) above mean sea level.
  • The south portal of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres, while the north portal of the tunnel is located near Teling village in Sissu, Lahaul Valley, at an altitude of 3,071 metres.
  • It is a horseshoe-shaped, single tube double-lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres.
  • It is 10.5-metre wide and has a 3.6 x 2.25 metres fire-proof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
  • The Atal Tunnel has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour.
  • It has state-of-the-art electromechanical systems, including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA-controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system.
  • The historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on 3 June 2000 when the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. The foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on 26 May 2002.
  • The Border Roads Organisation worked relentlessly to overcome major geological and climatic challenges, that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone.
  • The breakthrough from both the ends was achieved on 15 October 2017.
  • The Union Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Modi, had on 24 December 2019 decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel to honour the contributions made by the former prime minister.

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