Recently, PM Modi Inaugurated the World’s Highest Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh which will provide a great relief to tourists and people travelling to Leh especially during Winter Season. The Cost of the Project is Rs 3200 crore. Originally the idea of this tunnel was conceived way back in 1983 during Indira Gandhi tenure but it was only in 2002 that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave its nod and laid the foundation for this tunnel.
Why India Needed Atal Tunnel
During winter, Leh region used to be completely cut off from rest of India due to heavy snowfall and Avalanche. It was a huge difficulty and loss for nearby population. This tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Manali and Leh. It is also the Country’s first tunnel to have an escape tunnel within the main tunnel which would provide an emergency exit in case of an untoward incident.
World’s Highest Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh
Atal tunnel is a 9.02 km long highway tunnel built under the Rohtang Pass at an elevation of 3978 metres in the Eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, India. The tunnel is named after former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Who Constructed the Tunnel
The Strabag-AFCONs Joint Venture (SAJV) in collaboration with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed the Atal Tunnel on the Manali-Leh National Highway.
About Border Road Organisation(BRO)
BRO is a construction executive force in India that constructs and maintains the Road Infrastructure around the Country’s Border Area. It was formed in the Year 1960 to secure India’s Border and develop infrastructure in remote border parts of the Country. It comes as a part of the Indian Armed Forces. BRO also contributes to the Socio-Economic development of the Country. It is also entrusted for the construction of bridges, tunnel, helipads, airfield as and when required by the Armed Forces. It is very famous for its expeditious delivery of Construction Projects.
Challenges Faced During Construction of Rohtang Tunnel
- The South Portal in the Seri Nullah zone always faced constant collapse due to heavy ingress of water.
- The maximum portion of tunnel faced excessive stress due to overburden.
- The zone around the tunnel always offered extremely pulverised rock and very poor geological conditions.
- Lot of work got hampered due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation.
Features of Atal Tunnel
- It has an emergency escape tunnel under main tunnel.
- It has Fire Hydrant after every 60 metres.
- It is a horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of eight metres.
- It also has Air Quality Monitoring System after every 1 km to track the quality of Air.
- Emergency Exit is in place after every 500 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.
- Tunnel has also been fitted with Broadcasting system and automatic Incident detection system with CCTV cameras after every 250 metres.
Significance of Atal Tunnel
- It can carry a traffic density of 3000 Cars and 1500 Trucks in a day with each of them can travel at a speed of 80 kmph.
- It reduces the travel time between Manali and Keylong on the way to Ladakh.
- It will cut the travel time by 5 hours and reduces the travel distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km.
- Tunnel has unlocked the potential of Tourism Industry in and around the Leh region.
- Atal Tunnel is a bidirectional Road Tunnel.
- Farmers, horticulturalists and youth will now also have easy access to the capital of Delhi and other markets. More on PIB.
- It will also aid the security forces in ensuring regular supplies to them and also in their patrolling.