Atal Tunnel - Word's Longest Highway Tunnel: Strategic Importance, Significance and Features
Atal Tunnel: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh's Rohtang. It will connect Solang Valley near Manali to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti district. It is named after the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
About Atal Tunnel
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel, Atal Tunnel at its south portal in Manali.
- It is a 9.02 Km long tunnel. It connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Before that, the valley was cut off for around 6 months every year because of heavy snowfall.
- It is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
- The tunnel cuts through a mountain west of the Rohtang pass and will shorten the distance between Solang Valley and Sissu.
Atal Tunnel: Significance
1. The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours. A journey from Manali to Lahaul and Spiti Valley would now be covered in a little over 15 minutes.
2. It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems.
3. It provides connectivity all year: Atal Tunnel is the first step towards providing all year connectivity to Ladakh. It has the potential to link Ladakh to Manali and Chandigarh throughout the year because it would bypass Rohtang Pass, which is covered with snow in the months of winter.
Source: The Hindu
4. Strategic importance: The Atal Tunnel will also provide a strategic benefit to the country's armed forces. As it provides year-long connectivity to the border areas. Not only this it will also save the whole day for troops and supplies as they move towards forwarding posts.
5. Essential commodities like petrol and vegetable supplies would also likely be available throughout the year.
6. According to PM Narendra Modi, farmers, horticulturalists, and youth will now also have easy access to the capital of Delhi and other markets. It benefits farmers as now their precious crops like peas and potatoes will no longer rot in trucks before reaching the market.
7. Enhance Tourism: The tunnel will enhance tourism as livelihoods in the tourism sector of the residents in Lahaul Valley and Ladakh would increase.
8. Other features of the Tunnel: Various safety features are there in the tunnel including telephone connections at every 150 metres for emergency communication, fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60 Metres, auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 metres, emergency exit every 500 m, air quality monitoring at every 1 Km, evacuation lighting/exit signs and broadcasting system throughout the tunnel among others.
9. In the Atal tunnel, BSNL has installed three 4G base transceiver stations (BTSs) for full 4G connectivity.
About Rohtang Pass
- Rohtang Pass has an elevation of 3,978 m which is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
- It is situated on the Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas.
The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the approach road of this tunnel in 2002 and after his government was gone, it seemed that work on this tunnel was forgotten. The situation was that till 2013-2014, work done on the tunnel was only up to 1,300 metres (1.5 km). According to the experts if the work on the tunnel continued at the same pace then it would have been completed in 2040 said, PM Narendra Modi.
He further stated that an "unprecedented pace was given to the project. Every problem faced by the BRO was resolved. The result was that while earlier 300-metre tunnel work was being accomplished every year, it reached 1,400 metres a year. In six years, we completed the work of 26 years,” after 2014.
The Union Cabinet decided to name the tunnel as ‘Atal Tunnel’ to honour former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his contributions in 2019. The decision was taken in 2000 when he was the Prime Minister. The foundation stone was laid by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010.
The Prime Minister added that to match the rising global stature of India, the country has to improve its infrastructure, its economic and strategic potential at the same speed. The Atal Tunnel is a shining example of the country’s resolve to become Aatma Nirbhar (Self Reliant).
Source: PIB, The Hindu
Disclaimer: ‘This story previously featured an erroneous image that was corrected immediately upon discovery. We regret the inadvertent error.’