Written by Nikita Tiwari, a 19-year-old student
Atal Tunnel is a highway project that was started by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 and inaugurated, on completion, by Prime Minister Narender Modi on 3rd October 2020 in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Being. Built under the Rohtang Pass, it is the longest highway tunnel in the world.
This tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km, and the journey time by 4 – 5 hours. Most importantly it solves the problem of the Rohtang pass becoming fully blocked in December due to heavy rainfall. Usually, in the winter Lahaul Spiti Valley becomes cut off from the rest of Ladakh.
The Atal Tunnel solves this problem and is a blessing for the inhabitants of Ladakh. Now there will be all-weather connectivity in Ladakh, all year round.
What does Atal Tunnel look like?
It is horseshoe-shaped and is built at an altitude of 3,000 meters, with a length of 9.02 km. It has two openings – one in the South with a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3.060 meters, and the other in the North is located near Teling village, Sisu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3.071 meters.
Atal Tunnel’s salient features
- It has an emergency escape tunnel every 500 meters under the main tunnel for providing an emergency exit in case of any incidents.
- The tunnel also provides a telephone facility every 150 meters, fire hydrants every 60 meters, turning caverns every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring every 1 km, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 meters.
- There are some restrictions – like the speed limit is 80 km per hour, and only 1,500 trucks and tracks, and 3,000 cars are allowed in a day.
Why tunnel named Atal Tunnel?
Atal Tunnel (previously known as Rohtang Tunnel) was named after our former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee because he was the one who laid the foundation stone.
His dream was to build this tunnel for solving the major issues of Rohtang Pass and Lahaul Spiti Valley. But unfortunately, he did not live to see it being completed. However, the tunnel will always remind us of his contribution.
Atal Tunnel is one of the world’s longest highway tunnels and the most important achievement of our nation that made Lahaul Spiti Valley remains connected throughout the whole year, eventually making local people’s life easier and paving the way for easy transportation supply.
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