Atal Tunnel, longest highway tunnel in the world, was opened to traffic on October 3. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 9.02 Km long tunnel that connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley.
Named after named after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, this highway tunnel is built under the Rohtang pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas on the leh- Manali highway. With the opening of the Atal Tunnel, the valley will be connected to the main land all throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall.
The decision to construct a tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 03, 2000 when late 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 Centre in December 2019 named the strategic tunnel after Vajpayee as a tribute to him on his 95th birth anniversary.
- Atal Tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
- The Tunnel is at an elevation of 3,100 metres (10,171 ft) whereas the Rohtang Pass is at an elevation of 3,978 metres (13,051 ft).
- The South Portal of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3060 Mtrs. The North Portal of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 Mtrs.
- The Tunnel is horse shoe shaped.
- It is a 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 is designed for traffic density of 3000 cars per day and 1500 trucks per day with max speed of 80 km/hr.
- State of the art electromechanical system including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system
- Important from the strategic point of view
- Gives a boost to tourism in Lahaul-Spiti, creating employment opportunities.
(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 tunnel has consumed 14,508 metric tonnes of steel and 2,37,596 metric tonnes of cement, and excavated out 14 lakh cubic metres soil and rocks, using the drill and blast technique for excavation and the New Austrian Tunnelling method for construction.