Why Atal Tunnel is Important for the Indian Military
The 9.02 km-long tunnel, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is the world’s longest highway tunnel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, 3 October, inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel. The 9.02-km-long tunnel, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is the world’s longest highway tunnel and it connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley.
Apart from its civilian uses, the tunnel is strategically important as well. The 10.5-metre-wide tunnel will enable the movement of 3,000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day throughout the year.
In case of any hostility, the tunnel will be crucial for providing logistical support to area which remains cut-off for nearly six months in a year as the Rohtang Pass is usually snow-bound between November and April.
Kargil Hero Explains
Talking to The Statesman, Kargil hero Brigadier (retd) Khushal Thakur, who is currently Chairman and Managing Director of the Himachal Pradesh Ex-Servicemen Corporation explained why Atal tunnel at Rohtang is strategically important.
The officer who commanded 18 Grenadiers regiment, which captured Tololing and Tiger Hills was instrumental in this project said with the present face-off between India and China the tunnel is crucial.
“This tunnel lies along one of the only two routes into Ladakh, the other being the Zojila Pass, which connects the Kashmir Valley to Drass. Thus, it is essential to provide all-weather connectivity with the forces in Ladakh at this critical juncture when the onset of winters is imminent,” he told the daily.
The Kargil hero said this is the first big step towards building all-weather capability along this Manali-Leh axis, which India had been feeling the absence of in the past. “This tunnel has placed us in a better position in a conflict scenario if ever that happens. Additional tunnels will have to be built along the Manali -Leh route at Baralacha Pass, Lachung La (16800 feet), Tangla and Nakee La to ensure all-weather connectivity till the forward lines of Defence,” he said.
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