· The Atal Tunnel is 9.02 km-long, horseshoe-shaped single-tube, two-lane tunnel
· It is the world’s longest motorable tunnel at 3,000 metre above the sea level
· It is under the 3,978 metre Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal, Himachal Pradesh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the all-weather Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh. The 9.02 km horseshoe-shaped two-lane tunnel links Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti Valley.
Addressing the public from the snow-clad Sissu town of Lahaul valley, PM Modi said that the tunnel will boost tourism and ease travelling. “It will connect the youth of this entire region with employment opportunities. Some people will run homestays, guesthouses, shops or become guides.
Handicrafts, fruits and medicines will also get a boost.” He added that the tunnel will benefit the local farmers, horticulture, cattle-rearers, students and traders. “Earlier, people in areas like Lahaul-Spiti and others were left to struggle on their own. In recent years, work is being done with new thoughts,” he said, in an apparent dig at the erstwhile UPA government.
The completion of the Atal Tunnel is a key element in the Defence Ministry’s attempts to make the entire 475 km-long Manali-Keylong-Leh highway, used by the armed forces to reach forward areas in Ladakh bordering China and Pakistan, motorable almost round the year.
After inaugurating the tunnel, PM said the majestic Atal Tunnel, beneath the lofty Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district, would give new strength to India’s border infrastructure. “It is an example of world-class border connectivity. There have been demands to improve border infrastructure but for a long time, such projects either couldn’t get out of the planning stage or got stuck midway,” Modi said.
Considered a wonder of human perseverance, the Rohtang tunnel, a dream of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and named after him posthumously, was completed after 10 years of hard work by the BRO with an outlay of Rs 3,200 crore. The tunnel’s foundation stone was laid by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010, in the Solang valley near Manali.