Dharamshala: On Saturday, the 3rd of October Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 9.02 Km long Atal Tunnel, one of the longest highway tunnel in the World, to connect Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley round the year. Without the tunnel the valley is cut off for about 6 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 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL) and reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3060 Mtrs, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 Mtrs. It is horse shoe shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 Mtrs. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 Mtrs.
It is 10.5-metre wide and has a 3.6 x 2.25 Mtrs fire proof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself. Atal Tunnel has been designed for traffic density of 3000 cars per day and 1500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr.
It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring system.
The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it. Some of the key safety features are:
(a) Tunnel entry barriers at both portals.
(b) Telephone connections at every 150 Mtrs for emergency communication.
(c) Fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60 Mtrs.
(d) Auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 Mtrs.
(e) Air quality monitoring at every 1 Km.
(f) Evacuation lighting / exit signs at every 25 Mtrs.
(g) Broadcasting system throughout the tunnel.
(h) Fire rated Dampers at every 50 Mtrs.
(i) Cameras at every 60 Mtrs.
The historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 03, 2000 when late Shri 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 met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th December 2019 and decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel to honour the contribution made by the former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After attending the inauguration function of the Atal Tunnel at South Portal, Manali, the Prime Minister would also hold a public function at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley.