Manali: Border Roads Organisation tasked with construction of the strategically important Rohtang Tunnel achieved a new milestone by boring 217 metre in April this year, which surpassed the earlier highest of 207.5 meters of tunnel length dug out in a single month in September, 2011.
Brigadier Manoj Kumar, Chief Engineer of Rohtang Tunnel project speaking at the 56th anniversary celebration of BRO at Dhindi (24 kms from here) said, “the feat is all the more commendable considering the fact that this excavation has been achieved while working beyond 3 Kms inside the tunnel, which poses great challenges due to issues of ventilation, muck disposal and water seepage. It’s all been a team effort and the aim is to achieve higher progress next month”
About the progress made Brigadier Manoj added that BRO had already mobilized resources for commencing work from the North portal as the plan was to achieve a breakthrough sometime between July and November, 2017 for both the portals to meet deep inside this fragile Himalayan geology.
BRO Engineer Col Sanjay Thaplayal speaking to Hill Post said, “during the past four months, the pace of work on Rohtang Tunnel has picked up significantly. Over the last two years, pace of work had slowed down due to the adverse geological conditions caused by the fault zone under Seri Nala. The conditions were so difficult that at times not even one meter of progress could be achieved in a month.”
In January 2016 the army engineers made a breakthrough by getting past Seri Nala Fault Zone and have encountered better rock conditions. In February 105 meters of tunnel excavation was achieved, in March 182 meters and in April a record 217 meters of tunnel was excavated. “We have already achieved more than 700 m of progress this year, says Col Thaplayal.
Rohtang Tunnel is being constructed under the Pir Panjal ranges to provide an year around access below the notorious Rohtang Pass that closes down for about 6 months in the winters. This tunnel will connect Manali with Lahaul Spiti Valley and will reduce the road length of Manali-Sarchu-Leh road by 46 Km.
The South Portal of Rohtang Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3060 meters, while the North Portal is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 m.
Total Length of Rohtang Tunnel is 8.845 Km. It is horse shoe shaped, single tube, two lane tunnel with a 8 meters of roadway. Drill & Blast method of tunneling with New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) philosophy is being used for the construction of Rohtang Tunnel, the engineers stated.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.