The Atal tunnel which will connect Himachal to all the remote areas of Ladakh has been built under the Rohtang pass on the Leh-Manali Highway.
This road will result in reduction of the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km. It is 8.8 km long and built at a cost of rs 3200 crores. This is the world’s longest tunnel above 10,000 feet. It is said to be saving almost 4 to 5 hours of traveling.
Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the tunnel very soon. The construction of the tunnel has taken total of 10 years, 4 years more then the estimated 6 years.
“The induction and de-induction of resources was a difficult task while it was under construction. We did face a lot of challenges but together we were able to complete its construction,” chief engineer KP Purushothaman said
Constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), India’s strategic infrastructure development agency, the foundation stone for the access road to Douth Portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002. The decision to build the ambitious tunnel was taken on June 3, 2000, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister of India.
Inside the tunnel, almost 300 cctv cameras have been set up at every 60 meters. The tunnel has emergency exit tunnels at every 500 meters. Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel in case of any fire incident. The tunnel is 10.5 metres wide, including 1-metre wide footpaths on both sides.
“We have had this dream to connect Leh and this was the first step to the connectivity ladder. This tunnel was a challenging project because we were working only from two ends. The other end was in North, across the Rohtang Pass which was accessible only for around five months in a year,” said Conlonel Parikshit Mehra, the director of the project.