New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel, the world’s longest highway tunnel, at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday.
The function will be held at 10 am, said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Atal Tunnel, which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kms and the travel time by four to five hours, is a 9.02-km-long tunnel. It connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about six months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) above Mean Sea Level (MSL).
The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 metres. It is a horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of eight 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.
Atal Tunnel has been designed for traffic density of 3,000 cars per day 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 June 3, 2000 when 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 May 26, 2002. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) worked relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone.
The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017. The Union Cabinet, under chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on December 24 last year decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel to honour the contribution made by former Prime Minister Vajpayee.
After attending the inauguration function of the Atal Tunnel at the South Portal, Manali, Prime Minister Modi will be participating in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul-Spiti and at Solang Valley.